Unintended Consequences: Fix This, Break That?

June 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

iStock 000024663193XSmall 300x300 Unintended Consequences:  Fix This, Break That?Results lag in a key area.   You energize the team to fix it.  Results improve.  Fantastic.  Now other results are plummeting.   Beware of unintended consequences.

  • Improve customer service, reduce efficiency
  • Improve efficiency, damage morale
  • Improve morale, increase costs

Results don’t improve in vacuums.  Unintended consequences lurk around every corner.

4 Ways to Avoid Unintended Consequences

1. Brainstorm Downstream Impacts

Before implementing, stop and think.  What could this fix, break?

  • How will customers react?
  • How will this distract the team?
  • What short-cuts will this inspire?
  • What will this do to our brand?
  • ?

2.  Start Small
Consider a pilot.  Implement with a small team and measure the impacts.

3.  Isolate the Variables
When a problem’s big enough it’s tempting to try everything… all at the same time. Your action plans look robust.  At least you can’t be accused of “not trying.”   More is not always more.  More enhances the distraction.   Over-exertion distracts.  Multiple project plans confuse.  Pick your best one or two efforts.

4.  Coach to the Big Picture
Coach to outcomes, not activity.  Teach and develop behaviors that will impact all results not just one.

See Also:

Why Smart People Do Stupid Work

How do you avoid unintended consequences?

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2 responses to Unintended Consequences: Fix This, Break That?

  1. Great post, Karin! When we change the surface and not the root cause, new problems to pop. The 4 tips you listed are key to getting ahead of the curve and out of the “whac-a-mole” game. Another question I like to ask teams is, “If this weren’t a problem, what would be your biggest problem?”

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