Asking Better Questions Can Generate a Better Tomorrow

For us to create a better world, we have to ask the right questions. If we don’t ask the right questions, it is impossible to get the right answer. Asking the wrong questions means no matter how hard we work at getting the answers, we still won’t get what we want because we asked the wrong question.

Of course, if we are asking the wrong questions, the data we collect to answer the question will be wrong. Working with the wrong data leads to improperly informed data based decisions. We then waste effort, no matter how hard or how diligently we work. As practice continues to illustrate, Dr. W. Edwards Deming forsaw future problems from the existing methods. With regard to this situation, he would say,

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.

We can’t do good work if we don’t answer appropriate questions and have bad or wrong data. Additionally, working this way leads to more problems. Using the wrong data and asking the wrong questions means we get wrong answers. Relatedly, Russell Ackoff said it was most important to make sure you taking appropriate action. Appropriate action is impossible with the wrong data and the wrong question. As he explained,

Climate change is a current example where people cherry pick data to support a preconceived view rather than letting data determine the situation. Walter Williams regular uses cherry picked data to support a different pespective as he did in his November 20, 2019 column, Scientists: Dishonest or Afraid?. A response to his column pointing out that he used bad data can be seen at, Climate scientists neither dishonest nor afraid. In my view, it is important for us to get perspective. To get perspective, it often requires us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

From a larger perspective, there are no problems just a reality to improve. In other words, things are functioning, all we can do is improve what we are doing to have  a more beneficial impact.

This issue was brought to my attention as I listened to the first episode of the Solvable Podcast.

In this episode, which is also on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast , Gladwell interviews Rosanne Haggerty about homelessness. Rosanne explains how we are asking the wrong questions about homelessness. She explains that we believe the homeless problem cannot be solved because we are using the wrong data. She also explains how we are spending more to keep the status quo than it would cost to provide a solution to the housing problem from which everyone could benefit. She suggests a sticking point may be an issue of fairness. I encourage you to listen to this episode on #Solvable and share your thoughts here.

With regard to cost, once again this is the wrong question. It is not how much will it cost but how much can we save by providing housing. A positive benefit would be calculated even before related benefits such as what those people can contribute to society are considered.

This is another “True Cost” example (see True cost is all about The External Ripple). True costs for homelessness must include the widespread burden put on public service workers, police, teachers, EMT, court systems, doctors, librarians, emergency rooms, and the healthcare systems. We can provide an investment in housing for less then it costs to maintain the status quo and this investment will pay societal dividends that benefit everyone and everything.

If you are interested, Roseanne Haggerty indicated that the article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, Million Dollar Murray helped inspire her work. The article outlines the huge costs of just one homeless person had for society.


The issue about the wrong question and the wrong data resonates with me because it has been my life’s work. My work has focused on improving health. While most believe better health is accomplished by minimizing and or preventing disease. That line of thinking is once again asking the wrong question which means that associated work provides inappropriate data. Of course decreasing disease problems is helpful and good, but better health cannot be answered by focusing on disease. Please see Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!.

Currently we have an acute disease care system which is helpful, useful and important to treat problems for the short term. This system, however, is insufficient and inappropriate to generate a better life for all. To create a better life, we must ask about how can we not just have better health, but how do we create a better life for everyone and everything, not possible as things are now.

Health is important, not as an ends, but as a means because it enables a better life. As James Clear explains,

Having health isn’t everything, not having it is.

To create this better life, we must consider everyone and everything because we are all connected and we all rise and fall together.  The question cannot be how do we fix disease and or infirmity, but how do we cause health. We also must be sure that health is understood as the World Health Organization defines it:

A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being

and not

merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

This concept can be applied to everything. I use it for all I do. For example, I have applied this idea to Higher Education when I sought to discover What Helps Students Thrive? not just survive. The questions cannot be about how we prevent failure but how do we facilitate higher levels of success, not possible otherwise. This is what I call Exceeding Expectations, +3. (see video)

I continually challenge myself to exceed expectations. I ask myself, how can do my best in my roles as a husband, parent, friend, co-worker, professor and citizen? My question for myself is how can contribute more as a member of society, not just how do I avoid causing problems. I know when I do this, generated benefits are widespread. Doing this helps others, it helps me feel better about myself, and these actions provide data to support the positive feeling generated about myself. It is a no lose proposition.

If we don’t ask the question, better answers will only be discovered by accident. I recommend we make a concerted effort to ask the right question. Asking the right questions will help us get the right data which will help us make better decisions which can benefit all. In other words, we should be asking ourselves, how can we…

Generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits?

For those of you that follow me, you know this is how to practice paneugenesis or create all good. Don’t we all want to be contributing members of society? Doing this enables us to be who we want to be. As more of us do this, we create a better life for ourselves because we live a life of purpose and meaning. A by-product from living this way, as more of us do this, a better society for everyone and everything evolves.


Please share how you practice paneugenesis. I encourage you to practice paneugenesis to make it a Great Holiday season for yourself and everyone else. Enjoy and feel good about the beneficial interactions you create with friends, family and the environment.


Dots Enhance Meaning and Lead to Deeper Understanding

I have my students collect “Dots” or experiences as described by Steve Jobs in his memorable Stanford Commencement address. These experiences are to be things they are not required to do but something they choose to do they would not do otherwise. I encourage you to listen to his speech, especially his first story about the value and importance of collecting “Dots” or experiences in life. He explains that we can’t know the value of an experience when they happen but must believe in their value because “…you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards…”

The “Dots” Jobs describes are experiences and he suggests they have value.  Dr. W. Edwards Deming however said older people better understand because they have had more experiences to compare. By this he was saying we are better able to improve when we have more data (experiences) to compare. I talked about this concept in the previous post: What did I used to do with all My time?

Deming also insisted that experience without theory isn’t worth anything because you don’t learn. By that he was saying you can’t know what could or should have happened because the novel experience is not being compared to anything else.  A theory predicts what is expected to happen. In this way a theory provides something, an expected outcome, to compare to the experience. Comparing what happens to what is expected gives us information about what we can do to improve an outcome.

For instance I was in water aerobics class with a trained exercise instructor, but shet had never done water aerobics. Even though she was trained, she did not know what to do automatically, she had to adapt what she knew to this situation. Previous experiences are helpful because they provide a lot of information on how to create something new. The more experiences or “Dots” collected in life, the more a persons capacity to generate a useful creative, adapted solution. Of course the original solution is not likely optimal but it does create a base from which to improve. How well we are able to adapt is related to our previous, relatable experiences.

Creativity is also vital. Range or the range of our experiences, as explained by David Epstein in RANGE: WHY GENERALISTS TRIUMPH IN A SPECIALIZED WORLD, documents how and why more experiences enable people to come up with better and more creative solutions than those who specialized. In other words, a range of experiences will feed creativity which is vital because…

Intelligence looks for what is known to solve problems. Creativity looks for what is unknown to discover possibilities. – Simon Sinek

This is important because…

“Creating is different from problem solving.  As long as there is problem to focus on, we spend time and resources making new policies and fixing what is broken.  As long as there is a problem that has been fixed, there will emerge in its place yet another problem to be fixed.” – Marienne Chism, “No Drama Leadership”


As we learn more, amazing things happen. We discover that what we knew previously is also related to what we have just learned. We then develop a new, deeper understanding that enables us see how things are connected. Understanding that things are connected provides us with a more informed way to generate comprehensive benefits by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits so everyone and everything benefits.
We also need to realize learning happens through reflection not just doing. As John Dewey explained,

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
John Dewey

In other words, getting more experiences will help us understand how we can practice paneugenesis. I am interested in hearing how you are practicing paneugenesis. Doing so will give you evidence that you are doing good and provide you with data to support how you are a good person and why you should  feel good about yourself.
Make it a Great Thanksgiving by doing good and by having beneficial interactions with friends and a family.
Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

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

If you want to contact me:

True cost is all about The External Ripple

When something is bought, we think the true cost is what we paid in that transaction. The true cost of anything however is much more than the transactional cost. I discuss this in the recent post: It is All about the Ripple…

I was reminded about the “True Cost” when I attended the sustainability movie shown at our school “The True Cost” (trailer below). This movie was about the ripple effects on so many by what is called “fast fashion”. Something I had not previously realized.

The low cost of our clothes encourages people to buy more clothes, ie. Fast Fashion. Unfortunately, those costs that we don’t pay are born by disadvantaged populations and our environment, something upon which we all depend which means we all pay the True Costs.

Currently our accounting methods do not account for the True of full cost – especially from nature. The current capitalism accounting methods favor supply side economics and market prices and these methods to not reflect the full costs or values. Resulting market inefficiencies mean Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” cannot make proper adjustments that would be made if all costs were being counted. 

Capitalism values lower prices and this encourages producers to shift costs to society, the public and the environment. True or total cost of ownership, or ecological economics, includes all direct and indirect costs and its impact on the system. Costs unknowingly born by society, rather than the producers, are termed externalities. For instance, polluted air or water caused by local industry is an externality or cost born by the public at large rather than the pollution-producing entity.

Externalizing costs impacts business decisions because, unless stipulated by law, these costs are not recorded. As an illustration, consider the industry-ignored externalities from single-use plastic bags used yearly in the US. The externalities were equivalent to burning 439 million gallons of oil, leaches of toxins into the soil and water, and harm to wildlife cost an estimated $4 billion.  Noting these impacts has led many to ban the use of single- use plastic bags. The invisibility of externalities also negatively affects benefits because they are hidden by current accounting methods.

While most see this issue as unavoidable, Interface International offensively designed a plan to change from a destructive to a restorative company. They created a collaborative, sustainable business strategy that expanded its business, increased its profits, helped employee morale, increased profits, and improved the environment. Interface was an example of how selfish, selfless, synergistic processes designed to benefit the customer, the company and the environment, generates improved outcomes.

Ray Anderson was the founder andvisionary leader of Interface Carpets who rebuilt that company from one that was ecologically destructive to one that is becoming restorative. You can see his inspiring TED Talk below.

Image result for anderson one day people like me will go to jail

His drive  also helped the climate crisis by developing and using regenerative practices. They put in place a better way so everyone and everything benefitted.
“The True Cost” movie is a reminder, however, in my view it falls short because it doesn’t tell us how to invest so we have a more prosperous tomorrow like Ray Anderson did for Interface Global. Ray Anderson practiced paneugenesis because he was able to generate all good by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. This is how we can make today better while also investing for a better tomorrow. It is all about the ripple. Please share your thoughts and any other examples about how you are creating a positive ripple and a positive externality.
Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

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

If you want to contact me:

Terrorism Cannot be Prevented Or Eliminated

As we have learned, we cannot kill all the terrorists. Of course when we do, as with Al-Qaeda, a new version of it, as happened with ISIS, evolves. In other words,

Terrorism Cannot be Prevented Or Eliminated

Killings, sanctions, and or isolationism cannot get rid of terrorism any more than angioplasty or stents can get rid of heart disease.  These approaches are as illogical as saying not having an aspirin caused your headache or not having a doctor made you sick. Right now all we are doing is reacting bad situations with techniques to treat the symptoms. For a short time, some times, they end the symptom but then, eventually, usually in short order, the symptoms and more reappear.

The original issue, terrorism, heart disease, or anything we try to prevent, eliminate and or treat, will reappear because the Precursor’s or causes of the issue are still present. The conditions that led to that outcome are still present so it has to reappear. Unless a new reality is created, old symptoms have to reappear.

As we have learned, education and women’s empowerment are the best ways to move society forward, and as a by-product, also effectively end terrorism. This works because education and empowerment creates a new, “Idealized” reality where more is possible than what existed previously. The same is true for health. When people discover a plant strong, usually near vegan eating style, develop stronger relationships with people and the environment, and become physically active, they create a better life. In addition, the secondary by product, as demonstrated by Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn’s study’s have shown, the also reverse heart disease.

This is a backward way of saying working to create something better, a new reality using the Paneungenesis Process is also a more effective way to prevent problems than efforts aimed at only eliminating undesired outcomes. In other words, a focus on Creating More Good, Not Just Less Bad isa  more effective way to have less bad. Which also, most importantly, if done correctly, benefits everyone and everything.

As a reminder,

Practice Paneugenesis using this 4 Step to Process

  1. Operationalize Desired 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 and Develop Necessary Precursors to make Desired Outcome Possible
    • 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 to Develop Skills and abilities that make Precursors possible(this is Green Grass philosophy, its designing a process to help grass grow)
    • Develop good practices (append existing or start new processes)
    • Forget about what you should avoid
      • ONLY Focus on doing what makes desired things happen
    • Nurture, encourage, engage in and reinforce helpful actions
    • Update unneeded, outdated or inappropriate actions to ones that created idealized vision
  4. Plot Progress to document, demonstrate, and celebrate Improvement
    • Measure and document process progress moving forward toward idealized outcome
      • Note specific ongoing processes completed that cause movement forward
    • Plan and develop next steps to enable continual improvement

We cannot prevent or eliminate terrorism, though we can lessen some fo the things that we don’t want. However, if we want a better tomorrow, it can only happen by moving toward a new reality and this is something new that must be created.

Creating something new and better will necessarily push out what we do not want – it has to or the new reality will not exist (see Green Grass Theory)

I have noted this before in Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! and to move forward we must Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad. I look forward to hearing how you create a better tomorrow, please share your successes.

As you know, I will work for progress by generating comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits, or by practicing paneugenesis.  I look forward to hearing about the progress you help generate.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

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

If you want to contact me:

Living, Thriving, & Healing…Can it be simple?

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

My career has been focused on working to do what can cause desired outcomes.  Is that the same thing as healing? As an athlete I worked hard to improve my performance.  As a student I studied hard to learn the material and to become educated.  As a professor and research I investigate to discover if doing good, causes good.  As it turns out, it does.  This may seem obvious and straightforward, however many times we do the opposite.  In business we seek to cut costs to improve service – how is that possible?  Quality management demonstrated if we focus on improving quality, a positive chain reaction results from which everyone and everything can benefit.

As noted in August 21, 2019 Post, Top CEO’s Refocus on More than Profits…Hurray!, many are realizing we must seek to profit the system, not just an organization. This was what Deming consistently emphasized and is why those using his quality management methods have been successful. One of Deming’s messages in Profound Knowledge is: Appreciation for a System . This emphasizes that we are an interactive system, rather than a set of discrete and independent departments or processes governed by independent circumstances. When all the connections and interactions are working together, tremendous benefits for everyone and everything can be achieved.

Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book, “American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back” everyone should read. It outlines the opposite of working as a system. Here is a NYT review. It provides an example of how we have made things complicated. What has happened in healthcare has also been cited as what also caused the recent financial crisis. In these situations, rather than work as a system, multiple independent groups attempted to maximize their benefits and profits instead of promoting the system so all could benefit. The result, we all lose.

Her book is eye opening, obvious, evident, disturbing and problematic.  How did this happen when so many are doing what they think is best.  It is an example of what both Deming and Ackoff meant when they said doing the best work is not helpful if you are doing the wrong things.

This story is also outlined in this movie, “Healing Cancer from the Inside Out”. It is available on Amazon and below on YouTube when posted. First is the trailer, then the movie.

Please keep in mind:

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

Rather than work independently, I recommend the practice of paneugenesis. This practice works to generate comprehensive improvements to creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. There is no downside to doing this. Why would we do anything else?

Make it a Great Day, Week, Year and Life!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

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

Email me if you want to discuss: