Joel Barker

The world-famous futurist Joel Arthur Barker has established himself as a pioneer in the world of paradigms. Beginning in 1975, Joel began his crucial work on how paradigm shifts explain dramatic change events and the importance of using vision to push change within private and public organizations around the world. Mr. Barker’s most famous accomplishment is producing the two famous paradigm videos - The Business of Paradigms and The New Business of Paradigms. The enormous success of these two classic business films propelled Joel into international stardom in the business world. His work has given him the nickname, “The Paradigm Man.”

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In Barker’s work he has explained how organizations not only need to change, but innovate as well to survive. He taught that it is critical to overcome the fear of change and embrace it to survive. The idea that strategies from the past will work in the future is patently false and companies and individuals need to avoid this thinking; it keeps them from innovation and creativity and makes them stagnant. Joel uses the examples of the Swiss watch industry and the electronics industry in Japan to make his point in the business of paradigms.

Watch manufacturing is an industry dominated by the Japanese in the 1970s, 80s and 90s even to a great extent today. But how did that happen? As late as the 1960s, the Swiss completely controlled the watch industry. They produced 65% of the watches made in the world and 80% of the profit. They were a giant. And yet, by the late 1970s they had lost almost everything. They controlled just 10% of the market. What happened in that one decade to change everything? The Swiss actually invented the electronic (Quartz) watch and yet it was dismissed by the executives of the watch manufacturers as impractical and inaccurate. They didn’t even bother to copyright the technology. The Japanese, however, saw they opportunity and embraced this new paradigm and the rest is history. They have been dominate ever since.

The Japanese continued their ability to see future trends. At one point, their goods were considered cheap and poorly produced. They sought to change this reputation with the works of Dr. Edwards Deming and Six Sigma. At the time, the rest of the world was ignoring these quality techniques and that’s a mistake they would pay for dearly. The Japanese changed the paradigm and were “miles” ahead of the rest of the world when it came to quality manufacturing. They quickly changed their reputation and became known throughout the world as a supplier of quality products. The rest of the world took years to catch up.


Joel Barker videos have been translated into 16 languages and seen by 250 million people worldwide.  Their influence on business and innovation cannot be overstated.  His work has mainly focused around paradigm shifts and how businesses need to be constantly aware of how their industry is changing so that they can recognize changes and not be left behind when business paradigms change.  He believes the future is something that you form and not something that simply happens to you.

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