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.
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.
Upon 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.
I look forward to enjoying a better tomorrow!