Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!

 Non Sequitur

Non Sequir - Not doing Makes us Want to do

As proposed in the Non Sequitur comic above and by Wegner’s Theory of Ironic Processes of Mental Control (1994, Psychological Review), it seems our efforts to not think of something creates counter intentional effects, or the opposite of what we had hoped. With this understanding, I am proposing a more direct route toward creating what is desired, that is a method to work toward the creation of what we desire. Radical I know, but this is the basis of the Create all Good or Paneugenesis Model (Theory) of Desired Outcomes.

To begin this thought process, we must understand that everything is fine! You may say, wait, there is global warming, people are sick, and there is unrest in the world. While that is correct, these situations do not signify the existence of a problem but an observation of our current reality. If we want things better, this indicates our efforts must be focused on creating a new and better reality that also precludes undesired situations.

As the great management consultant Russell Ackoff explained, improvement of an existing condition or state requires a clear vision of what is wanted, NOT a clear vision of what is not wanted (i.e. Ironic Process). He highlights this point because most efforts to eliminate what we don’t want, rather than working to create what we do want, usually makes things worse. Most of us know when we attempted to rid the US of alcohol with prohibition, not only did we not eliminate alcohol, we also facilitated the development of organized crime. Now we attempt to eliminate crime with more prisons, and we know because of recidivism that also is not working. I suggest these efforts do not and cannot work because those efforts are not designed to create a new and better reality, just a less bad one.

To further illustrate this point, any focus on a problem or problems does not allow us to focus on what we want to create but what we want to avoid. Another hindering factor to improvement using existing attempts to eliminate problems is related to how a focus on problems or difficulties yields narrowed not broad thinking and therefore limits creativity related to the development of better solutions.

Although most assume things can be better if we focus on problems, evidence indicates this is not so because even if a problem is gone, we are only back to where we were, not better. As management expert W. Edwards Deming used to point out, putting out fires does not improve, it just turns down the heat by putting the process back to where it should have been in the first place. In more detail he went on to explain that removal of special causes (outside factors), as identified with statistical process control (SPC) techniques, could at best after the correction only put things back to how they should have been in the first place – not new and better.

While I suggest problems are irrelevant in the title, their irrelevance is only in its relation to improvement. Simply eliminating problems only brings us back to where we were or what I refer to as zero (0), not better. To be able to Exceed Expectations and create a better reality with improved outcomes, we must first develop a vision or picture of our desired or idealized outcome – what I refer to as +3. The short video below highlights this idea:

Even if we focus on eliminating what we don’t want – it in no way means we will get what we do want. To create what we want, we must think about how to exceed expectations and related comprehensive benefits. Comprehensive refers to pervasive or far reaching effects  that come about through systems thinking and benefits relates to improved outcomes that lead to an improved reality from generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Paneugenesis's Comprehensive Benefits
Paneugenesis’s Comprehensive Benefits

The steps to test this model are:

4 Steps to Practice and Test Paneugenesis Process 

  1. Operationalize an Idealized Outcome
    • Determine an Idealized outcome that is better or improved from what is possible or able to happen now
    • Must incorporate Systems Thinking so the outcome benefits are on multiple levels without any seen harm to other levels
  2. Discover Precursors to Ideal and current process
    • Research to discover what must come before idealized outcome, what must be true for desired outcome to occur
    • Assess current process to discover and learn current processes used or must be created to manifest ideal outcomes
  3. Optimize the Process (this is Green Grass philosophy, its designing a process to help grass grow)
    • Develop good practices (append existing or start new processes)
    • Update unneeded, outdated or inappropriate actions to ones that created idealized vision
  4. Plot Progress
    • Measure and document progress forward toward idealized outcome
    • Plan and develop next steps to enable continual improvement

A more detailed outline of this concept that has been developed into the Model to Create All Good or Paneugenesis is forthcoming for testing so it can become a model to test into a theory. I look forward to your comments. Thank you.


22 Responses

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  2. […] I just finished reading my students philosophy papers again.  My students do this each semester I teach.  I enjoy them because I get to know how they think and they help me learn more.  However each time I read them, I end up with more questions than answers.  Although they all want to do great things, most students are stuck believing they will do great things if they stop doing things that lead to undesired outcomes.  They explain how they would make a better choice to avoid bad without ever saying what they can do or should do to create what they want.  How can  what is desired be created without taking action to create what they want.  This of course relates to my common discussions about, Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! […]


  3. […] is insufficient, but insufficent. We must work to make things better, not just less worse. (see Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!, and Fixing Problems is Inefficient, Ineffective […]


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  8. […] does not create health, just less disease. I explain many of these issues in a previous post, Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! Health has to be created.  In many presentations and classes I explain how it is good to […]


  9. There’s certainly a lot to learn about this topic.
    I really like all the points you made.


  10. […] contributes to helping others and society benefit. In other words this is an example of how we can practice paneugenesis and create all good by using selfish, selfless, synergy to generate comprehensive improvements by […]


  11. […] It is for this reason I promote actions to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions that benefit everyone and everything. These actions are Selfish, Selfless, and Synergistic which is the practice of paneugenesis. Paneugenesis, or creating all good, generates comprehensive benefits because comprehensive means using systems thinking to create pervasive effects and benefits are proactively generated improvements that are better than what could be now, even if work harder. These concepts are explained more in my Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant Post. […]


  12. […] the video below explains the concept of Paneugenesis or Selfish, Selfless, Synergy as well as this, this, this, this, this, this, and many more […]


  13. […] we must focus on what we want to create instead of what we want to avoid. I discuss this with the paneugenesis model: 1. Operationalize an Idealized Outcome – make sure all involved parties know what is to be […]


  14. […] way to say this is I how I have documented  Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant and Fixing Problems is Isufficient, Ineffective, & Inefficient because eliminating problems […]


  15. […] instead about how can we do things better so the problems are avoided or become irrelevant (see here). In reality, crisis mitigation or solving a problem is really a method to be at best average, not […]


  16. […] good and better in the future. This also relates to my first step to practice Paneugenesis which is “Operationalize an Idealized Outcome”. Having an exciting and desirable outcome to move toward would in itself create expectationism […]


  17. […] Generate Comprehensive Improvements by Creating Interactions so Everyone & Everything Benefits! This links to a previous discussion  “Prevention Can’t Work & Problems are Irrelevant”  which explains how to […]


  18. […] possible and to make it possible if all can see how they will be better. This means we will need to imagine a better reality that encourages, nurtures, supports and reinforces interactions from which everyone and everything […]


  19. […] it seems everybody is practicing what I now call “paneugenesis” (see previous posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here to learn about […]


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