This week we welcome guest blogger Martin Murphy. Martin is an international adviser, speaker, and catalyst of peak performance in leadership, teams and  people. He is the author of one of my favorite books, From Mercenaries to Missionaries: Designing, Developing and Leading High Performing Teams in Your Growing Business, available on here. You can also learn more about Martin and his work at

This week Martin explains how many of us are “paradigm-blind” when it comes to making decisions, and ways that our decision-making practices can contribute to a more regenerative paradigm. Next week, he’ll help us understand more about decisions and regeneration as we all strive to become more interdependent in our organizations and our lives. Enjoy! – Dr. Kathy Allen

By Martin Murphy

I act as a catalyst for leadership and team development in businesses and government organizations mostly. I also act as a catalyst for people committed to developing their skills that are maybe transitioning to another stage in life or want to operate better in the stage, they’re at now. The one thing I have found to be fundamental and powerful in all this is examining how people make decisions. I believe this is key to helping the world transition to a regenerative paradigm. I also think it needs to be easier for people to understand and implement. Action, not pontification is what will drive sustainable change.

Self-awareness plays a big part in this process.

If you don’t understand your own strategy for decision-making, you’ll be paradigm blind.

I am therefore I think’ is the counter position to Descartes’s myth. Basically, we’re all thinking, feeling, doing, and sensing/communicating beings. We’ve also got a unique preference for which we use and when. Primarily we’ll use one or two of these filters but we have the capacity to use all four of them.

  • Creative people like to utilize their senses and communicate. They do four things really well. They’re the scouts who make new connections across different fields, people, and ideas. They challenge the status quo, create new solutions and paradigms and then champion those novel ideas. We might see these people operating as founders, communicators, and artists. They like affirmative conversations, ‘no but’ is replaced with ‘yes and’ so they can get into an enthusiastic creative flow state. They don’t like cutting off their options so might struggle to get to the planning stage.
  • Collaborative people are able to enquire and empathize with others to gain a feeling about context and how others are impacted. They prefer to work in small groups of people they relate to and with whom they have high levels of trust. They prefer to work with the familiar so that they don’t upset anyone by getting the task wrong. They do become very confident in their role but it takes time for them to really feel comfortable. They’re supportive and nurturing and act as the cultural glue that maintains harmony in the team or group. They make great coaches and counselors.
  • Competitive people are good at driving ideas into existence and propelling performance within a business. They are the ‘doers’, the Hunters looking for an opportunity which means they must be very focused on the result. You’ll recognize these people because if you offer them an idea, they’ll probably reject it. But then a few days later they’ll tell you about a great idea they’ve had, and present your idea back to you, neatly re-branded as their own. They’re reactive when making decisions, solving problems on the go. Excellent fire-fighters, very confident from the outset, and able to tolerate higher levels of risk. We might see them operate as salespeople, entrepreneurs, or in the services where they can take charge.
  • Controllers like to introduce certainty through analysis and strategic thinking. They play the Shaman role as keepers of the community wisdom. They know which berries to eat and which are poisonous, which crops to plant, where, and when. They get into the flow when they’re focused on the details. As such, they prefer to work with the tried and tested. They mentor junior members of a group on the traditions of the organization or community. Experience counts for a lot, but controllers may struggle when coming across novel challenges. We usually find them playing the manager, technical specialist, or accountant roles.

All these archetypes have been developed over two million years of evolutionary survival. During that time, after developing the ability to speak and for about 150,000 years, we lived in egalitarian communities and everybody got a say. We did this by operating STOP’s- Strategies To Overcome Power.

Equal importance was attached to each archetype, so no one person or group was allowed to dominate the others. If a stronger member tried to dominate the group, the weaker members would collaborate and overthrow the bully upstart. We collaborated our way to the top of the evolutionary tree. Paradoxically it’s our competitive advantage. We see it in nature even in hierarchical communities like gorillas. Often the Alphas that are more supportive of the group are generally more successful in regard to mating opportunities.

Fast forward to today.  After several ‘industrial’ revolutions we live in a world that has really amazing technology but which has brought us to the verge of ecological collapse. This is a result of biased-thinking.

We’re paradigm blind in our decision-making because of one main component that is missing. We don’t employ ecology-checks in decision-making.

Industrial thinking is primarily competitive and controlling. Technology research is striving to be able to think quicker (AI) and do more effectively (Robotics). Industry’s purpose is to increase competition and control over power and wealth. Like a tap, they’re gathering resources from large areas and many people and channeling those resources to them. They then control the flow of those resources for the benefit of a smaller group of people.

Everything else is deemed non-essential and so the costs are externalized onto society and the environment. It’s simple but hidden and protected behind a complicated smokescreen of nonsensical and unsustainable theories.

The winners of the capitalist, neoliberal paradigm are bullying the rest of us and destroying our wellbeing and habitat in the process. Moreover; they’re not going to let go of the bananas because they’re comfortable where they are. They’ve developed delusions of entitlement, separateness, authority and permanence to support their paradigm.

That’s enough of the problem. So what’s the solution?

Join us next week for the second in this series. In the meantime, connect with Martin on LinkedIn here.