Unintended Consequences

by Trudy on September 2, 2011

Last year I wrote a blog on a new pick up process at my learner’s school that created dissension amongst the parental ranks. School went back a week ago for us and I was reflecting on that blog and what a difference a year makes.

One year later, we are still following this pick up process since the construction that prompted this change is not complete. A year later, I have to admit, it runs pretty smoothly, and many parents even say they like the process now. Progress was made because an unrealized benefit was realized (not getting in and out of cars in rain and -30 weather is rather appealing). A clear benefit/”what’s in it for me” is how people get won over in time of change. Letting clients discover it for themselves is risky (some may not stick around to discover it), so it is important to highlight those benefits up front and be clear about how the pain comes with a gain.

It also got me thinking about a blog Karen wrote earlier this year referencing unintended consequences of decisions. There have been some of those from this process too. Since parents no longer go into the school to pick up their learners, the personal connections have been compromised between, the parents and: students, teachers, administration, other parents. It has weakened the sense of community in the school. As a parent who is typically quite involved in volunteering for my learner’s class, I observed the growing challenge of engaging parents as the disconnection grew through the year. The unintended consequence: when you create barriers to your business, don’t be surprised when the customer doesn’t show up anymore.

It is a good reminder to think through the impact of both minor and major decisions in our businesses in terms of what is the real benefit to our clients, and what may be the unintended consequences we create. Our task is to mitigate as much as we can to keep the connections healthy and in tact.

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