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Friday, February 10, 2012

Unintended Consequences

One day someone will tell you to watch out for the law of “Unintended Consequences.”  You will certainly run into this law as you perform your entrepreneurial activities.  I mentioned a few examples in the last article titled “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.”

Planning for your business is a time consuming activity.  Strategic planning is essential in order to accomplish the goals in the business plan.  You will always be looking at activities on a daily basis and seeking ways to improve the company performance and delivery.  Predicting your milestone timings and then hitting the timings presented to potential investors is maddening and stressful.  You will be a hero if you are successful and a goat if you miss or fail.

The scope of duties expected of the CEO or manager includes improving or changing the business or organization as needed.  Review of all activities along with your creativity may provide clues on improvement steps. Keep in mind, there are always the unintended consequences you can never predict.   These unexpected events can be good or bad.  They do not occur in every scenario, but when they do, you should be prepared to deal with them.

Take for example litigation against Company A.  The litigation was in progress for about 3 years with no court date set.  There were many trips to the judge and lots of name-calling occurred.  While the litigation took its own path, the suing company continued to develop contacts and identify potential partnerships.  One day a director of the suing company gets a call from a possible partner.  The call resulted in a meeting between the CEO and Company B.  It was a strange meeting.  The CEO walked in and said “if you want to talk, I want x of funds in my account before the end of the month. Otherwise, go away!  Guess what, the deal closed in less than three weeks.  The litigation with Company A settled in the following few months.  This is the short version of a good outcome and ability to act quickly to an unexpected event.

The case of the two employees mentioned in the last article is a case of a bad outcome.  Two stellar individuals both able to perform at the highest levels were hired.  One was a contractor while the other was an in-house employee.  The fact that the two personalities conflicted was greatly unexpected.  The characterization of the two being like “Gasoline and a Match” was even more unexpected.  Eventually one of them was asked to leave.  This was sad. Both individuals were terrific.  The devastation left behind from their interactions was not expected. It took a long time to clean up after one of them left.

The take home message is that you must be aware that unexpected events happen.  They come after thoughtful and well-planned activities or actions, and they occur by accident.  You MUST be vigilant and take advantage of the good ones, and rapidly correct the bad.

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon