Generating Systemic Wealth — Part 10: The Sixth Wealth-Generating Source, Paradigm Shifts

The emergence of a new paradigm for what the world is and how it works has always been the most powerful, extensive, and enduring source for the generation of new wealth. But true paradigm shifts are rare and take time for their influence to be felt. They generally arise out of profound new insights from science or philosophy and are often spread through the arts long before they are taken up by business and educational institutions.

A shift in paradigm causes a move from one era to another in terms of how people think and learn — e.g. from a medieval to a Galilean world to an Einsteinian world, from pre-literacy to Guttenberg to the Internet. It’s about changing how people know what they know and therefore how they believe the world works. The Renaissance made possible a merchant class, and the industrial revolution made possible the availability of goods and jobs that grew the middle class. The information era has shifted the definition of value, elevating information over material, and global flow over place-based economies.

The sixth level of value generation works on the paradigm by which society defines and builds wealth. The interesting thing is that the people who create this shift rarely gain a personal return, because it may take decades or generations to make clear its value and significance. It can only come from a living systems view, because it is only concerned at the level of how the world really works, meaning how living systems really work. Those who see and grasp the shift prepare the way for the next evolution of each of the other five wealth-generating sources.

For more about how paradigms work to generate wealth for businesses, watch me speak on the history of work design and the paradigms that have informed management in past eras.



Carol Sanford is a regenerative business educator, the award winning author of The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes, and executive in residence and senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College. She has worked with fortune 500 executives and rock star entrepreneurs for 40 years, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Learn more about Carol and her work at her website.