Monday, December 17, 2012

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Every action results in a reaction, in business and in life, which sometimes involves the Law Of Unintended Consequences.   As a result, in taking any action, it is important to think through the likely downsteam reaction.   So for example, if certain headcount is eliminated to save costs, which on the surface may seem beneficial to the company, what is the likely outcome.   Will it cause other employees to leave the company?   Will it result in poor service that could cause client and revenue loss?  

Decision making isn't simple because of the Law Of Unintended Consequences.   Years ago, in working with one of our clients, a Director level employee was terminated for cause.   That one termination resulted in five employees being relocated to fill various jobs that became open as a result of this one termination.   There was a domino effect.   At the time and this was years ago, the cost to the company was over $300,000 as a result of the unanticipated relocation expense and that did not include the severance cost to terminate the employee, which was sizable.   This one decision cost the company about $400,000 when all was said and done. 

Of course, no one knew this was going to occur when the employee was terminated.  And, since this was a big company, management actually did not know this was happening until all the moves took place.   After it happened, company management was stunned by the outcome and the cost.

Things like this happen all the time in business and in life.   It is the Law Of Unintended Consequences that often runs us over like an out of control train.   This is the reason hasty decision making, without considering all the consequences,  it not a good idea.   Take the time necessary to consider all the ramifications of a decision before moving forward.   This does not mean months of deliberation; but it does mean a due diligence process to at least try to understand the end of the story before it happens.   It could save a lot of pain and suffering for all concerned. 

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