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Have you been inadvertently seduced into the ‘we need more of this good thing’ mindset? Whether in marketing, business more broadly, family life, friendships, or business, corporate, and national finances, it’s common place (and entirely natural) for us to think that if something is ‘good’ and it’s been beneficial for us thus far, then we want more of this good thing.

If something is good, then surely more of it is better? Once we have applied the judgement value of ‘good’, then that thing is good — and we want good things. Once something is placed in the ‘good-to-have’ box then we want more and more. Yet there are so many instances where this is simply not true. Food without any salt tastes bad. Some salt is good. Too much salt is again bad.

Salt

I sometimes call this the salt curve. No communication is bad. More communication is good. Surely, more and more communication can only be better? The average American manager gets 178 e-mail messages every day. Because email is so easy, you automatically send the same message to everyone on your list. It is possible to be overwhelmed and burdened by too much communication. Free movement of money and goods is the opposite of protectionism and is good for trade. But the unrestricted adoration of ‘globalism’ may not be an unmixed blessing. Money surges around the world in search of immediate gain and at the expense of sustained productivity. Water in a basin flops about. Put a grid in the basin and the giant flops are reduced to tiny flops in each square of the grid. Freedom is good and more and more freedom is better. But at a certain point freedom becomes licence and your freedom interferes with the freedom of others. This is another of the major faults of the crude judgement system. It is easy to acknowledge this fault intellectually, but much more difficult to deal with it in practice. At what precise point does the striving towards ‘more of a good thing’ turn into a ‘bad thing’? Each next step must surely be good — even if the overall picture suggests that the ultimate effect is not good?

Edward de Bono (New Thinking for a New Millennium)

I can think of quite a few situations in which we’re chasing after “too much of a good thing”. I’d love to hear your comments on this topic!

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