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.
UPDATE: Brain research as outlined by Merzenich and Doidge and also seconded by James Clear in Atomic Habits is that we don’t stop eliminate bad habits, we just develop new and better habits to take their place. It is as outlined in the Green Grass Theory, we grow new blades of grass so no room is left for the weeds to grow. We replace bad behaviors with good behaviors.
Brain research shows us that old neuron connections of habits still exist, however when it is not used it goes dormant. New habits are created from repeated actions that require brain neurons to fire together so they wire together. This wiring stays unless actively attempts to unlearn. This also means that when old cues are provided, it can mean resurrection of old unwanted habits. Knowing this means we must continuously and consciously work to create an environment that supports, nurtures, encourages and reinforces desired actions.
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.
The steps to test this model are:
4 Steps to Practice and Test Paneugenesis Process
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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