Decision Making and the Elusive World of Unintended Consequences

Posted by Kitty Stolle on May 3, 2021 4:16:04 PM
Kitty Stolle
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As a new manager many years ago, decision making came at me as a strange mix of hurry up and slow down. Over the years I have learned (and I'll admit had to relearn many times) that 'unintended consequences' are key to your decision-making timeline. Move too fast, they come barreling at you later! Delay too long and invite more! But they are

'unintended' - meaning you never meant for that to happen, right?  So how do you get ahead of something that was not a part of the grand scheme? Taking steps to examine unintended consequences at an enterprise level will improve your decision outcomes.  Asking the right questions is the foundation:  


  • First and Foremost - Talk to your team.  And always talk to more than one person, even if you love the advice of the first person! Solicit different and varied opinions. Ask 'what would happen if' questions and listen.
  • Talk to other departments. Propose several scenarios for them to consider and listen.
  • Follow the resulting path step by step - take the time to look at each step in the process and ask what happens if I do this?
  • Look at the past – Keep in mind that past outcomes do not dictate the future.  We all know how much things change! But reviewing past mistakes and successes is good preparation.
  • Talk to your boss - my bosses always seem to come up with several other items that I should consider. 


Finally, take all of this information and make your decision. Each time you go through this exercise, you will get better at it. Will you ever avoid unintended consequences? Probably not, it is inherent in the very word itself. But you will expand your decision-making skills and be more prepared to handle what comes at you!  


What do you do to avoid unintended consequences? 


Topics: "insurance", leadership, decision-making, manager, team, unintended consequences

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