You’re in the process of making a big decision. You’ve checked your emotions at the door, filtered through all of your assumptions, gathered the facts, arrived at conclusions, and now you’re ready to take action.
Or are you?
There is one more step before hitting the send button. Take time to consider the possible unintended consequences. By one poorly-thought-out action you might set off a chain reaction that could bankrupt your organization.
“unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”
Recently IHOP (International House of Pancakes ) announced that they were changing their name to IHOB (International House of Burgers). A couple of weeks later they announced that they weren’t changing their name after all, it was a big publicity stunt to spotlight the other tasty morsels you can get at IHOP in addition to breakfast 24 x 7.
No harm, no foul right?
Actually the harm done (Law of unintended consequences) was to the customers who have been getting up at 0-dark-thirty every day and meeting their buddies at IHOP for coffee and breakfast felt betrayed. For two or three weeks they thought their favorite breakfast place was going to be another Dairy Queen. The flip added insult to injury when company officials tried to woo their loyal customers back with 60-cent pancakes, allegedly to celebrate the 60th anniversary of IHOP.
IHOP got lucky. They got off easy. But not all cases of unintended consequences end so well.
So, before moving on those really big decisions, take some time to ponder, “What am I missing? What could happen that I’m not considering?” Or, take a cue from the game show, “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” and call a friend; get someone’s perspective who actually has a different perspective.
Unintended Consequences lead to Really Bad Decisions. Avoid them. Just stop. Think things through.
That way you won’t have to change your story and tell people you were just kidding.
Tim Hast is part of the team at Encore Life Skills where they develop leaders you’d want to follow and teams you’d want to join. The workshop, “Think Like a Leader, Critical thinking for Crucial Decisions” is available in a live seminar format, or as an online e-learning class. For more details: firstname.lastname@example.org