Tag Archives: either-or

There Just May Not Be a Magic Bullet – It’s Practically always “Both-And”

It is a great principle in psychiatry that “all-symptoms are overdetermined.  This means that they have more than one cause.
I want to scream this from the rooftops:  “All symptoms are overdetermined.”  Except that I want to expand it way beyond psychiatry.  I want to expand it to almost everything.  I want to translate it, “Anything of any significance is overdetermined.  Everything worth thinking about has more than one cause.”  Repeat after me:  “For any single thing of importance, there are multiple reasons.”  Again, “For any single thing of importance, there are multiple reasons.” 
M. Scott Peck, In Search of Stones:  A Pilgrimage of Faith, Reason, and Discovery

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If only we could get (come up with) the right __________.

We keep looking for the magic bullet.  In every arena, we want the answer to the problem, to come up with the solution for all time.

Probably not gonna happen!

There is always more to it – more to add to the equation.  So many books make this point.

Consider the problem of creating a product (or service) that generates genuine demand.  Here is a paragraph about it from Demand by Adrian Slywotzky:

For the demand creator, building a magnetic product is essential, but it isn’t enough—you also need to understand the customer’s hassle map and figure out how to connect the dots in ways that reduce those hassles or eliminate them altogether. Making an emotional connection with the customer is crucial, but it isn’t enough—you also need to make certain that all the backstory elements are in place, so that you can be sure to avoid the Curse of the Incomplete Product. And even that isn’t enough—you also need to find the most powerful triggers and deploy them effectively if you hope to overcome consumer inertia and transform potential demand energy into real demand. What’s more, great demand creators instinctively understand that even creating a powerful stream of demand isn’t enough—not unless you make a commitment to intense, ongoing improvement so as to meet, and exceed, the ever-rising expectations of your ever-changing customers.

Or consider the problem of prolonged, even multi-generational poverty.  Here is a paragraph from the terrific and important book:  The Working Poor (Invisible in America) by David Shipler:

For practically every family, the ingredients of poverty are part financial and part psychological, part personal and part societal, part past and part present.  Every problem magnifies the impact of the others, and all are so tightly interlocked that one reversal can produce a chain reaction with results far distant from the original cause. 
If problems are interlocking, then so must solutions be.  A job alone is not enough.  Medical insurance alone is not enough.  Good housing alone is not enough.  Reliable transportation, careful family budgeting, effective parenting, effective schooling are not enough when each is achieved in isolation from the rest.  There is no single variable that can be altered to help working people move away from the edge of poverty.  Only where the full array of factors is attacked can America fulfill its promise. 

We look for that magic bullet, in our own lives, in our business lives, in our relationships…  There simply may not be that magic bullet.  The problems are many; the causes of the problems are many; the solutions are almost always “both-and,” and very, very seldom “either-or.”

So, keep looking.  There is probably something else to add…