Paradigm Shift as a powerful tool to gain influence over your stakeholders

Paradigm shift can be of great importance for you as a project manager, while gaining influence over your stakeholders. Paradigm shift is a term first used by Thoma Kuhn, the well-known physicist, philosopher and historian of science. According to Kuhn, scientific revolutions are not a matter of incremental advance; they involve paradigm shifts. Talk of paradigms and paradigm shifts has since become commonplace — not only in science, but also in business, social movements and beyond.

So, what exactly, is a paradigm shift? Or, for that matter, a paradigm?


The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following simple definition of a paradigm: a model or pattern for something that may be copied
: a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about.

A paradigm shift is defined as: an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. According to Kuhn a paradigm can offer general epistemological viewpoints, like the "philosophical paradigm initiated by Descartes," or define a broad sweep of reality, as when "Paradigms determine large areas of experience at the same time."

So, although the term paradigm shift has been used for decades now in all layers of society, it is by far a clear defined term. But having said that, I know from personal experience that a paradigm shift can do magical things and be of great help in influencing your stakeholders.  In this article I will describe why.

From an NLP perspective a paradigm is the set of primary beliefs a person or group of persons has which are responsible for they the person or group of persons act. In that way a pardigm shift means a change in the beliefs resulting in totally different behavior. And that's exactly what you as project manager want, because in essence every project is about change. And to change your stakeholders you must change the beliefs of your stakeholders, thus resulting in a paradigm shift.


A paradigm shift is a very powerful tool for project managers dealing with change every day, because in essence a paradigm shift means a change in the beliefs of your stakeholders resulting in different behavior.

As a project manager your core business is to cause a paradigm shift within your stakeholders.

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A paradigm shift is not a quick fix, but something which will holds ground for the long term.

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Over to you

Please leave a comment below by telling us how you provoke a paradigm shift within your stakeholders. Or maybe with a great example of a paradigm shift you already realised?

Thank you already in advance for sharing your thoughts and insights!

About the Author

Harry Heijligers

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: If you'd like to know more about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.


Paradigm, Paradigm Shift, Stakeholders

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