Prevention benefits mean nothing bad happens, it does not necessarily create more good. By definition, it will just get us back to where we were before. Of course this is good, at least not worse, but why not create better? Time and again we look for errors that could have been eliminated, suggesting less errors is higher quality. Unfortunately, less errors only mean things are less bad than they could have been, not truly better. To me that type of thinking sets the bar too low.
Dr. Deming often explained it doesn’t make sense to focus on getting better at things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Inspecting at the end of an assembly line, he would explain, could not produce higher quality products, it could only catch errors. Quality management meant focusing on doing all the steps better, through informed decisions made possible with process behavior charts. Process behavior charts also enabled better connection between the steps so all could be done better. It matters more how things work together than how anything works independently. A continually improved process is far more effective than an improved ability to find errors at the end.
Isn’t searching for and finding errors what we usually do. We measure for errors rather than showing what could be. I thought of this as I listened to the June 3, 2022 NYTime Daily Podcast, “The Cost of Haiti’s Freedom“. I encourage you to listen here.
It wasn’t so much about what they lost that sparked my interest, but later in the podcast the information they calculated about what good could have been created. If rather than paying the “double debt” back to France, Haiti could have invested in themselves and could have had a thriving island of educated citizens who would have had a better opportunity to live up to their potential and contribute. Nothing says it would have happened, but it could have…
It seems this linked Mother Goose and Grim comic strip, posted the same day as this post was attempting to make the same point. How much better can that camel perform??
As was explained in the NYTimes Daily podcast, at about minute 12, Haiti paid France $560 million dollars. Then they said, if that money had stayed in Haiti, it would be worth $21 billion dollars to Haiti which could have been used for schools and roads. That was in raw dollars, according to calculations by economists, they determined that it could have been worth $115 billion dollars if the money was used wisely. They explained that this was the opportunity cost of the money that went to France. In other words, it is what Haiti could have been – a country with electricity, water, schools and health care.
They suggested that it was magical thinking. Is it magical thinking, or is it seeing a future that we want to create and then working to make it so? According to John List in his 2022 book, “The Voltage Effect: how to make good ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale“, this type of thinking is what was the best chess players do. They use backward induction to figure out how to create the best outcome. Is that magical thinking? No – it is backward induction or Prospective Hindsight (see Use Prospective Hindsight to Create a Better Tomorrow) It is what is used by everyone who creates better outcomes than what currently exists. It is also what I suggest we do with the Paneugenesis Process by first creating an Idealized Outcome, an outcome that cannot be now, but could be if we redesign reality to make it so.
John List explained, this evolved from Zermelos Theorem. According to what is posted on Wikipedia, backward induction is:
…is a process of reasoning backward in time. It is used to analyse and solve extensive form games of perfect information. This method analyses the game starting at the end, and then works backwards to reach the beginning. In the process, backward induction determines the best strategy for the player that made the last move. Then the ultimate strategy is determined for the next-to last moving player of the game. The process is repeated again determining the best action for every point in the game has been found. Therefore, backward induction determines the Nash equilibrium of every subgame in the original game.As explained on Wikipedia
Using Backward Induction for Benefits
Although life does not allow perfect information, shouldn’t all of us use backward induction to determine our next move? My point, in simplistic form. If we want to improve, we must start with what we want, i.e. a regenerative world, not just a sustainable one (see Getting Better as We Fix What we Broke).
We can live a lifestyle that not only makes our lives better by living it, by eating a plant strong diet, by being active with friends and family, building our minds be cooperating, and by learning and creating new methods to generate comprehensive improvements through the creation of net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits so everyone and everything benefits. This is the Practice of Paneuegenesis.
This can be made more likely by measuring for benefits, rather than problems to avoid. Dream of a better future not possible now, an Idealized Outcome seen through Prospective Hindsight. Then use backward induction to figure out how to create that desired reality. It will be exciting work to generate and contribute toward creating a better world for everyone and everything. Please share how you are using the same strategy the best chess players use, backward induction, to create a desired outcome that helps generate comprehensive improvements.
Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!
Please share your thoughts and questions below.
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