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Habits Can be and Should be Good

Judson Brewers excellent book, “The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love – why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits” and his TED Presentation, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit” is focused on ending bad habits. Ending bad habits is helpful, however creating good habits can be even better because they help us improve.  We can create good habits by intentionally taking action to develop specific helpful behaviors.

Dr. Brewer shared many great insights in his book.  One I found important was when he suggested rather than focusing on our craving, a desire to do something, a bad habit we should instead become curious and discover what is happening.  He suggests doing this so curiosity becomes our habit.

My focus has been on how to develop good habits that improve our life.  I have focused on habits because habits require a lower cognitive load and therefore provide us with greater capacity and potential to excel. For example, I just came back from swimming.  I have been a swimmer most of my life and I am able to swim and do laps habitually, it does not take conscious effort to swim.  Since I do not need to devote my mind to the task of swimming, I can think about other things.  Luckily, many of my ideas or answers to questions I have come to me when I swim. I discuss this idea of having more capacity at my Capacity Enables Creativity and Crisis Mitigation post.

Another insight Dr. Brewer shared that I found enlightening was how he discussed what I term, Selfish, Selfless, Synergy. If interested, see Experts & Joey Explain Benefits of Selfish/Selfless/SynergyMaking a Symphony with Selfish, Selfless, SynergyBiology & Evolution Make Us Selfish, Selfless, & Synergistic, and many more.  My point has always been that being selfish is being selfless or that they are these ideas may be the same.  If you are interested in this perspective, Bill Clinton and Joey explain in the video’s below.

Dr. Brewer however clarifies the idea of being selfish and or selfless.  He suggests acts are selfish when they are done for external or extrinsic rewards and selfless acts are when actions are taken for intrinsic reasons.  For example, he suggests holding the door for someone to get a “Thank you” in return is selfish and holding the door for the intrinsic reward of feeling good for is selfless.

My thoughts about this are that there is overlap and both methods provide a reward. Dr. Brewer however helped clarify how we think about rewards for our actions may help make our actions more consistent with our intentions.  Research by ETbHiggins would also suggest a consistent self-regulation style will also improve performance of those actions.

It also seems that  intrinsic rewards can also be extrinsically rewarding at a later time, thus an overlap.  It is also likely most of us know this at some level, even though we mostly do an action for intrinsic reasons.  I hope this fits with my idea that money must follow, it should not lead. That is we should do good, and in time if our good provides value, we will be rewarded beyond just feeling good for doing good.  After all, if we are not rewarded over time, we could not continue engaging in those actions.  Does that make sense?  In addition, research to date seems to suggest we will perform better and create more value when intrinsically driven than if driven for extrinsic reasons.  A great amount of research supports this contention.

All in all it seems this could also support the idea of paneugenesis.  That is we should focus on creating all good and can feel good for doing good because practicing paneugenesis is to generate comprehensive improvements for everyone and everything by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions.

Please share your thoughts.  I recommend you read Dr. Brewer’s book and Practice Paneugenesis to create all good so everyone and everything benefits.  Doing so should also help you feel good for doing good!

If interested, you can see other posts I made about this concept at Everything Happens for a Reason! Make it Good!Do Good or Don’t Do Bad – Does it Matter? and others.

Make it a Great Week!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com

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Fantastic Book: “How” to Generate Universal Benefits

I regularly read Thomas Friedman’s insightful and interesting NYT Column and have read many of his wonderful books. Reading his material has generated many posts, including Mimic Mother Nature to Create a New Political PartyNew Responsibilities are Opportunities, and many others.  In his column he often promotes the work of Dov Siedman and his book, “How: Why HOW You Do Anything Means Everything”. This recommendation inspired me to read his book. I was not disappointed.  Gandhi’s quote captures the book:

To believe in something and not live it is dishonest. – Gandhi

The book was fascinating.  Most importantly, from my perspective, he talked about optimizing the process, or finding a better HOW. From a new perspective, he explained Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s point that to get a better outcome, we must continually improve the process – the HOW!  Throughout the book he emphasizes, if you take care of the HOW, the WHAT takes care of itself, which to me is a rewording of Deming’s proclamation to continually improve the process so the product will take care of itself.

To make his point, he explains how we must build a culture to be the engine that leads to value based outcomes. Examples of cultures are markets and he made a valuable analogy about Free Markets to traffic. He made this comparison by explaining that traffic flows best and fastest when it is predictable. Traffic lights and rules such as lanes, warning signs and speed limits make traffic flow predictable. This of course also includes how neighborhoods function, such that cars, pedestrians and bikers can all make steady progress because conditions are predictable. If instead they made traffic a free for all with no regulations, not only would it be dangerous and difficult, traffic would move and function poorly. When a traffic light is out, things are uncertain and unpredictable. This condition slows and often stops forward progress. When things are unpredictable, this makes people risk averse meaning they could choose not to drive or if they do drive, progress is slow. Doing anything is a risk, if people are risk averse, things stop happening. The comparison to markets is that if people in business see an unpredictable market and they cannot reliably know if they can be successful, they may choose to do other things. In other words, a rules free market would create a culture that would likely stagnate or at least greatly diminish the market and economy.  For me this was a very powerful lesson.

He continually emphasizes making decisions on values to enable self-governance.  He demonstrates that when people enlist in values that promote the common good, rules, policies and procedures are not as needed.  He also shows that because it is impossible to make rules or procedures for everything possible, following shared values allows people and organizations to quickly and effectively adapt and make good decisions in new situations. The book reviews the HOW Leadership Framework and provides a fresh clarifying direction for people to use.

He points out the sometimes elusive nature of goals by sharing what Henry Sidgwick showed in the Paradox of Hedonism. The paradox Sidgwick explained was that if you pursue happiness directly, it eludes you. In a like manner, Seidman seems to suggest that if you pursue success directly, it will elude you.  To emphasize that better results are the by-product of better HOW’s, he explains:

…You can’t do self-improvement, but if in every email, conversation, meeting, and task you are thinking like a leader, you will improve.You can’t to tolerance, but if in every interaction you strive to fill the spaces between you and others with trust, you will get tolerance, and a whole lot more. You can’t do excellence or winning but if you believe in a set of core values and you pursue the expression of those values in everything you do, you all deliver more excellence to others…

So what does he suggest we do, he suggests we pursue significance to achieve success as a by-product of our how.  If we pursue significant, value based HOW’s, success will take care of itself!

For me, from my bias perspective, this book was a detailed explanation of HOW to Practice Paneugenesis.  In other words it was HOW you can continually improve your processes so you are able to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  I strongly endorse this Seidman’s book, “How: Why HOW You Do Anything Means Everything”.

This post was written to help you know HOW to make it a Great Week for everyone and everything!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com

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Best Practices are Contraindicated for Improvement

** Valuable input related to statistical theory was provided Allen Scott for this post

The concept of “Best Practices,” is often the well-intentioned aim of many best efforts (see We are Being Ruined by Best Intentions and Best Efforts).  Upon reflection, for several reasons, “Best practices” is contraindicated for any goal that aims to continually improve.

1.  “Best Practices” is a misnomer.  Best practices means this those practices are the standard adn are what should be done.  If not, it suggests operating procedures are being done incorrectly or have there are problematic processes.  This means implementing “Best Practices” will fix problems and get things back to where they should be.  This also means these efforts do not actually “improve.”  Our goals should be to exceed expectations – see video.

2. “Best Practices” implies an end point, that is, once the best practices are adopted – we are done.  Adopting “Best Practices” cannot lead to the best outcomes, over the longer term, because conditions constantly change and these changing conditions means practices must be continually improved.  It is for this reason, practices should be assessed or monitored using Process Behavior Charts** regularly so efforts can be continually improved.  The idea of “Best Practices” runs counter to the idea of continual improvement.

3. Best practices are always contextual, that is they depend on the circumstances.  What is being understood as best practices were best for where they were developed and used but may not apply to the situation where they are being applied.

4. Even more concerning about “Best Practices” is the idea that supposed best practices are being implemented on top of current practices before the existing processes are assessed and understood.  This means efforts could be considered full scale tampering. How could it be known whether these “Best Practices” were not already being used?  Additionally, this type of tampering is problematic because we are adjusting the processes based on the results instead of first understanding the existing process.  Tampering always results in greater variation and worse results, most notably over the longer term.

Instead, study successful practices that led to desired outcomes. In addition, at the same time, it is important to learn more about current processes to see how to improve existing efforts rather than tamper with those processes.  This can be done by conducting research and empowering those involved by getting them real-time information about relevant processes by having them Flow Chart their processes and showing them how to use process behavior charts.  This information help them understand how to improve their processes as it relates to the overall system.  Improving the system will help not only with the project at hand, it will also help the organization become a national model  because it will help the organization more effectively achieve its mission and as a by-product have higher profitability, improved employee morale, higher customer satisfaction, lower wastes and be more likely to create pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Many points captured here are expressed in this updated version of the video about how to Exceed Expectations.  Enjoy.

5. If needed, here is more information about the theory of variation (statistical theory):

**Walter Shewhart discovered two causes of variation in any process that changes over time:

 • Common causes — causes that are inherent in a system (process or product) over time, affect everyone working in the system and affect all outcomes of the system. 

• Special causes — causes that are not always part of a system (process or product) or do not affect everyone, but arise because of specific circumstances.

If only common causes of variation are present, the system is stable or predictable, it has an identity, and prediction of future performance is possible, with a high degree of belief.  When Special or assignable causes are present, this makes the system unstable and unpredictable.  This means we will not be able to accurately predict future performance of the system.

Shewhart created a tool most recently called the Process Behavior Chart to separate the two sources of variation and guide the action of management. Understanding the source of variation directs action by management. If this theory of variation is not understood, most attempts at improvement (in stable systems) will fail and many will make things worse. W. Edwards Deming called these actions without knowledge “tampering.” Applied, Shewhart theory will help us to realize no amount of care, skill, and hard work  will overcome fundamental flaws in our system. If we keep doing what we are doing, we will keep getting about what we are getting. Feedback from current and especially past successes and failures will also be critical information for systemic change. The problems cannot be understood or evaluated without the aid of statistical theory and the effects of any attempt at improvement cannot be evaluated without statistical methods. 

I look forward to hearing about how you continually improve your processes so you are able to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Help make it a Great Week for everyone and everything!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:
Email: BeWellr@gmail.com

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