The two buckets problem

Imagine you have a bucket full of mud. If you add a teaspoon of soup, it will remain a bucket full of mud.

Now do the opposite: if you add a teaspoon of mud to a bucket of soup, you will get a bucket full of mud as well.

Combining something good with something bad, often leads to more of the bad stuff. This is especially relevant for mergers, joint ventures, and combining teams.

These combinations are often sold as ‘bringing the best of both worlds together.’ Think of the 1998 merger of Daimler and Chrysler. Instead of bringing Chrysler to Daimler reputation, and growing Daimler to Chrysler market access, the opposite happened: Chrysler quality combined with Daimler market reach. The merger was doomed from the beginning.

The reason for the two buckets problem is mathematical: 1+1 has only one correct answer, but an infinite amount of wrong answers.

Bad habits, values, and systems will always outnumber and overwhelm the good ones.

Therefore, be very careful with the people, teams and organizations you associate with: If you value your soup, stay far away from the mud bucket

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