Prevention programs, by definition, are about less bad, not more, net-positive good beyond the absence of problems. Evidence has clearly demonstrated, less bad is insufficient if we want real, net-positive improvement. #SelfishSelflessSynergy W. Edwards Deming famously proclaimed that a transformation, or a thorough, dramatic change was necessary to improve business because…
Solving problems, big problems and little problems, will not halt the decline of American industry.
The statement above goes against common sense. When a transformation happens, what was common sense no longer seems logical. Deming’s Quality Management methods made the use of Process Behavior Charts the new norm and it became common sense though unfortunately still not common enough.
Dr. Deming explained and his success has confirmed, less bad is not enough. Jeffrey Hollender, the former CEO of Seventh Generation Inc., explained in a 1 minute and 57 second summary why we must generate more good, not just less bad. His description shows he has been transformed. (Also see Less Bad ≠ More Good – We Must Create Good).
I was again reminded about the insufficiency of attempting to make things less bad, or an approach aimed at primarily solving problems, when I read the January 21, 2020 NYTimes article, The Road to Auschwitz Wasn’t Paved With Indifference. As it stated,
“…It never works to participate in a terrible thing in order to try to make it less bad. It’s tempting, and can seem like the right thing to do…
Lösener’s attempted to make it better by changing the law. He…
Bernhard Lösener, a lawyer in the Third Reich’s Ministry of the Interior, relays how he hurriedly traveled through the night to get to Nuremberg in time to write the Nuremberg race laws so that the rule of law would be preserved, and how he fought to have the race laws written to count as Jewish those with three Jewish grandparents rather than those with one drop of Jewish blood. Lösener’s race laws included fewer people than a one-drop rule would (though that had negligible effect).
In other words, he tried to make it less bad by having fewer classified as Jewish. As is also noted in the article, bad things don’t just happen because people do nothing or the false belief that bystanders will do nothing in the belief others will. People are generally good. As noted:
Bystanding is not the problem. What we need to guard against is hate and collaboration with hate. It’s rare for people not motivated by hate to casually witness a serious crime and do nothing about it. (The notorious case of Kitty Genovese, the woman stabbed to death in 1964 in her apartment building vestibule, while supposedly dozens of people within earshot of her screams did nothing, is a case of false reporting.)
People do not stand by as bad happens. It also seems logical and morally right to attempt to cause less bad. Unfortunately, history has demonstrated that less bad often makes things worse and cannot cause more good. As noted:
History shows that when you participate in an atrocity together with the perpetrators, in an attempt to make it somehow a little less horrible, in the end you’re still participating in the atrocity — and it is no less horrible.
It is great to be a hero, though we must remember: Less Bad ≠ More Good.
What history teaches us is: Don’t perpetrate; don’t collaborate. If you can be heroic, that is laudable… Just don’t welcome the murderers, don’t help them organize the oppression or make it “less terrible” (that won’t work anyway)
Working to make it less bad is almost always insufficient. Rather than focusing on how to make it less bad, more good comes by working at the iterative process of 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 how you help everyone and everything benefit!
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