How can your business save time and money from unintended consequences?

One good fix deserves another

Who has fixed a reasonably sized issue in their business only to have another issue emerge as a result?

Question – Anyone care to share?

This is the Law of Unintended Consequences and sometimes being successful in fixing an issue or making a change for the better causes more problems than it solves.

How to prevent the Law of Unintended Consequences

1. Ask yourself the question: What could go wrong with this fix or change? An example could be not properly identifying the issue or communicating the change well-meaning time wasted and money not well spent.

2. Ask yourself what he consequence could be if the fix or change is successful. An example of this is when someone uses the change in a way you didn’t expect and that causes another issue that requires another fix. For instance, fixing a water leak in one place causes pressure to build, and another water leak happening in the next weakest place in the pipe. So maybe you need to pressure test the whole system.

3. Think about constraints. Like the water leak, a system is only as fast as the slowest link in the chain. Fixing a constraint in one place can be a waste of time if there is an even slower or equally as slow constraint further down the line. As an example, broadband speed is only as fast as the slowest transmitter in the system so maybe you must look at all parts of the system. Check that you aren’t removing one pressure point just to cause a pressure point somewhere else.

4. In a similar way, if you run a promotion that increases leads but it’s too successful and you generate more leads than you can serve effectively, you have wasted money and created bad will. Test different levels of success and check where problems will result.

5. Where possible and a fix isn’t urgent, test a small area first. Choose 1 or 3 customers, one region, 1 salesperson, or one branch, test, and measure before releasing to the whole system.  BNI does this before releasing anything new to all BNI.


Always consider the law of unintended consequences when making changes or improvements in your business so save wasting time and money.

Unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes of a purposeful action that are not intended or foreseen.

This education is based on BNI Podcast Episode 703: Misner’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law.