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Unintended Consequences: Fix This, Break That? post image

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.

How do you avoid unintended consequences?
Filed Under:   Results & Execution
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant, and MBA professor. She's a former Verizon Wireless executive with two decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. Karin was named as a top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. She is author of, "Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss." Karin knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of a marathoner and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.
 

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What People Are Saying

Jesse Lyn Stoner (@JesseLynStoner)   |   12 June 2013   |   Reply

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?”

letsgrowleaders   |   12 June 2013   |   Reply

Jesse, Thanks so much. I love that question… I will plan on using it ;-)