As the clock strikes midnight, the world once again brings in another new year with anticipation. For many people, the last several years have been filled with financial crisis and personal turmoil.
With the realities of globalization, one country’s misfortune can have negative consequences for other countries across the world. Therefore, a new year brings a lot of uncertainty for the future.
Furthermore, today’s businesses must be ever on guard for market turbulence and global threats. Given this reality of personal consequences, individuals must be more mindful of effective decision making. In fact, bad decision making can hurt an organization as well as an individual.
Denis Collins, author of Business Ethics, notes that the prevalence and costs of unethical decision making at work can be substantial for businesses. Therefore, good decision making can dilute a competitor’s advantage. In this discussion, we will examine how decision making can carry unintended consequences.
Today’s leaders must consider the aftermath of their poor decision making. Sadly, many folks fail to understand the consequences of their decisions. For example, Vanessa Williams was one of these fallen Hollywood icons. In 1983, Williams became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America.
However, her immediate success was short-lived due to a scandal. Consequently, Williams was forced to relinquish her title; she probably did not think her youthful deed would come back and wreck her dreams. Yet, the consequences not only damaged Williams but her family, friends, and millions of her fans. Nobel Prize author Albert Camus once noted, “Life is the sum of all your choices.” In spite of all wise counsel, some people seem to have a knack for making poor decisions.
Sadly, many poor decisions have unforeseen impacts. Nancy Cavender and Howard Kahane, authors of Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric, argue for better decision making under this financial crisis: “Now, more than ever, we need to think critically about the world we live in and the decisions we make.” They point to the dire consequences of poor decision making. In fact, these circumstances often can be traced back to a root cause.
The Law of Unintended Consequences relates to any purposeful action that will generate unintended consequences. This law can be categorized into several areas: (a) a positive unexpected benefit called serendipity, (b) a negative effect which is contrary to the original intention, and (c) a potential source of problems which is commonly referred to as Murphy’s Law.
Like Murphy’s Law, some decisions may appear to afflict some people as if their lives are cursed. Making the right decision is a difficult process. No one will applaud your many good decisions; however, you will probably catch heat over the bad ones.
In fact, every person, regardless of their background or social standing, can benefit from good decision-making techniques. In this life, most people make decisions to the best of their abilities. When various things happen, especially bad ones, individuals must be ready to deal with them. Therefore, understanding unintended consequences can assist in helping us make better decisions for the future.
Discuss your understanding of the Law of Unintended Consequences as it relates to effective decision making.
© 2014 by Daryl D. Green