Solutions Create Issues

A manager said to me, “Because we were not getting enough details from persons applying for jobs in our division, we added more features to our job application software.”

“How are the new features working?” I asked.

“Better. However, applications came to us with ‘data missing’ notices. Our tech people modified the software to require applicants to input all data requested prior to submitting.”

“Did that cure the issue?”

“Yes. All applications contain the information requested but there has been a decline in persons applying.” 

When you read labels on medications, whether prescribed or over the counter, you will notice a listing of potential side effects. The same principle applies to resolving issues in the workplace. Few, if any, solutions resolve matters cleanly. Put differently, most solutions create unintended consequences.

Workplace issues are often exceedingly complex. The question should not be, “Will the proposed solution resolve the issue?”  Rather, you should ask “What unintended spin offs will the recommended fix likely create?”  And “On balance, will we be better off with the newly created issues?”

Failure to include anticipated “side effects” into the evaluation of proposed solutions will surely result in unanticipated disappointments.

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