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.