Less Bad ≠ More Good – We Must Create Good

I often put this, + , on top of many students papers.  This means, less negative does not equal more positive. Negative and positive events are independent. Eliminating what is undesirable does not create what is desired. Often students tell me that the organization or university will thrive if we eliminate smoking, if we prevent violence or if just get stop eating unhealthy food. This is not necessarily true, the absence of bad does not create good.

Peanuts - Just not UNHappy

Stopping someone from being killer does not cause them to do good deeds. In class, prohibiting students from using phones or other electronics does not make them good students. Not doing the wrong thing does not cause, inspire or lead to someone doing the right thing. Specifically, not doing the wrong act does not enable one to have skills or abilities to do something good or better. How could they develop new abilities by stopping something? What new ideas or skills could be developed from inaction?

In other words less negative does not equal more positive (< – ≠ > +). This idea was documented in Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory. His work demonstrated eliminating dissatisfaction did not create satisfaction. He demonstrated getting rid of dissatisfaction could not create satisfaction because non-dissatisfaction and satisfaction were independent and caused by a different set of factors.

Positive can only result by actively thinking about and designing a way to generate comprehensive improvements and by developing new skills and abilities that create interactions so everyone and everything benefits. To make sure desirable interactions happen, there must be a focus on the outcome and how everyone and everything benefits. I refer to this as aiming for +3, see video.

Everything is connected, if one thing changes, everything else changes because it adapts to that change. To create positive we must use systems thinking for any choice or action. In other words, to create the +3 we can practice paneugenesis and do all good by using pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions that generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Peanuts - Be > Not BadUpon reflection, I realized this was something I practiced in my life. Our house burned down on April 29, 2014. (See story at, Dad Our House is on Fire!..People are Amazing) We could of used insurance to rebuild our house back the way it was, which was nice, but like most, we wanted a better. Our idealized outcome was of a more efficient and more usable house. That is what we did. Since we are consistently doing things everyday that create tomorrow, shouldn’t all our efforts be about creating a better tomorrow instead of working to maintain the status quo.

The riskiest  thing we can do is maintain the status quo. – Bob Iger

Doing better takes self-reflection and thought. We will need to think, will these future efforts create what I have always had or will these efforts result in something better? Unfortunately we cannot know for sure if they will work but we must be willing to experiment, based on existing evidence and accept that Challenge. After accepting the Challenge we need to have the Courage to be Committed to work toward creating that better outcome. Our Commitment in creating a better outcome will also require our development. Our development will mean the learning of new Competencies in the form of skills, abilities, and potentials. This development will also mean making Connections to people and organizations that can help us make progress toward that idealized better outcome.  To learn more about a way to C these 7C’s see this post.

To create an idealized outcome, one that is not present today cannot happen unless we create the necessary conditions, environment to generate that desired outcome. To create better, I recommend taking these steps to create all good with selfish, selfless, synergy or the Practice of Paneugenesis:

1. Operationalize an Idealized Outcome – make sure all involved parties know what is to be created and be sure that it is better than what can be now. The outcome should have pervasive and reciprocal effects that carry meaning and impact to and beyond the individual.

2. Discover Precursors – what must exist now to make the idealized outcome a reality. Discover what skills, abilities, traits, environments are necessary and or must exist to realize the idealized outcome. These precursors are conditions that must be created and not currently present.

3. Optimize the Process – what must be done to create those precursors that will enable the idealized outcome to be realized – go do that now! Do what must be done to create and put in place the necessary precursors discovered.

4. Plot Progress – find measures that document and demonstrate progress is being made toward the creation of discovered precursors and or idealized outcomes. Progress measures that indicate movement is being made toward the creation of the new, desired reality are necessary to give meaning and purpose to the process and to help participants maintain motivation.

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I look forward to enjoying a better tomorrow!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker
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Honoring Justice Scalia – Dare to Disagree

While I personally agreed more with Justice Scalia’s ideological opposite, Justice Ginsburg, I have learned Justice Scalia had desirable characteristics. Justice’s Scalia and Ginsburg were as different in their opinions as was possible yet they maintained a close friendship. From this there is much to learn.

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To me this situation relates to what some consider Dr. Stephen Covey’s most significant work he described in his book, “The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems“. What I understood this book to say was that we should always seek to find a better way by discovering the 3rd alternative. He suggested the better way was not found through compromise but innovation. In other words, he encouraged people not to accept to do things your way or my way, but a better way – the 3rd Alternative.

In related fashion, Margaret Heffernan provides wonderful examples of how and why seeking disagreeable or different points of view can yield better answers. I encourage you to learn the benefits she describes in her presentation, “Dare to Disagree”.

Interestingly and in a telling way, opposites seem to attract intelligence which can lead to better ways. The Practice of Paneugenesis is about daring to disagree with the status quo by discovering the 3rd alternative which are ways to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

I look forward to enjoying the benefits we generate for our world by daring to disagree with the status quo with selfish selfless synergy. We can develop ways to continually improve by creating and putting in place precursors that allow us to enable idealized outcomes that make this a more livable world for everyone and everything.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker, PhD

What did I used to do with all My time?

An amazing colleague of mine who now has 2 children says to me, “What did I used to do with all my time?” She was comparing her situation now to before she had kids. She comments, “How did I not have everything done and do more?” After many of us have kids, we wonder, what did I used to do with all my time? How did I not have extra time to do things?

While kids are exceptionally rewarding, they are very time consuming. I think this also relates to a switch of priorities. I know my kids situations supersede most other concerns which means all else I do gets pushed down. This discussion also got me thinking about how we think about everything and confirmed to me that how we understand is really just a measure of what things are based on a comparison of what we know.

Born Loser - Measures are comparisons

Kids provided me with another example of how comparisons give us meaning. My girls used to always ask me to time them to do things. They would ask, “Daddy, Daddy…time me putting my pajamas.” I would say go and watch them race to their room. Then they would return out of breath asking their time. I would tell them something like 66 seconds. They would say, “Wow, that was fast wasn’t it Daddy?” Of course I would say great but I was left wondering. Then they would say, “Daddy, Daddy…time me brushing my teeth.” I would say go and watch them race to brush their teeth. They would return out of breath asking their time and I would tell them something like 44 seconds. They would say, “Wow, that was fast wasn’t it Daddy?” Of course, now I know that it was too fast because they should take more time to brush their teeth. The difference is teeth brushing has a criterion measure of 2 minutes or more to do it well while putting on pajamas has no time criterion.

This conversation also reminded me of a “fun” presentation I did during my PhD program at Arizona State University. The presentation was titled, “The Value of Research”. The presentation pointed out that for any measure to have meaning, it must be comparable to things we know. For instance if I say I my height is 175, this means little to American’s but is clear to Europeans who would know that I was referring to centimeters tall. For Americans to understand I would need to say I am 5 feet 9 inches tall.

At work, what we do is measured by making a comparison to standards to determine if we are working at, above or below what is expected. In the presentation I went on to document that time actually does go faster as we age. Analysis, as shown below, indicates as each year passes, a smaller percentage of time elapses based on our perception of what we know time to be.

Brief Proof

Here is a link to a PDF of the whole presentation if you are interested.:

The idea that everything we look at is a measure in comparison to what we know is one reason for instituting the concept of Continuous and never ending improvement. We should improve because when we look at what has been done, we realize it can be better next time. The most important caution however is to think of the system implications. We must determine how changes may impact everyone and everything. Short term solutions such as burning fossil fuels which is just ancient sunlight, may destroy everything we care about. We must find better ways (see here, here, here,here, here, here).

We want to make things better because we adapt. What was great, from cell phones, to camera’s on cell phones, to automatic lights on cars, these improvements become the standard. Thus as is explained by the Kano Model, we must continually prime the pump with better ideas so we can continually improve.

chart Kano Model

To learn more about the Kano Model, there are several video’s such as this or this.

Another thought to ponder: Can anything be new AND improved? If it is new, it is something different maybe a better product, but not necessarily improved. If it is improved, it is the same product just different and can be compared to previous version. Can anything be new AND improved?

More thoughts about the idea that all we see is a comparison:

  • When kids first see something, may not have ability to make a comparison
    • When they say it hurts, it may be the most pain they ever had and why so upset
    • As age, now know it is something we can bare because have before so less upset
  • Suggested we cannot withhold judgment because we judge automatically
    • Are all judgements a comparison to what we know?
    • How can we use this innate process to improve our lives?

Be sure when develop new ways, we think systematically and how this impacts and has effects on the whole system. Remember, the best solutions are pervasive so they generate reciprocal benefits for personal and planetary health.

Take Away: Use our innate ability to compare and contrast what is to what was to institute ways to Practice Paneugenesis with Selfish, Selfless, Synergy by generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Make it a Great Day, Week, Life….

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker, PhD
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