What is an unintended consequence?
When you obtain effects you didn’t want and you did not expect, following your actions, you are experiencing unintended consequences.
Too much love at the family level
If you squeeze too much your children because you love them you might figuratively and physically suffocate them. Instead of making them closer to you, you become an annoying person and they don’t want to be near you.
Wrong killing incentive at the government level
You are in In India and you want to reduce the danger of having too many Cobra snakes around. You could reward people for killing Cobras with the unintended consequence of making them breed this species to collect the prize. So you are actually making things worst.
Hurting lost children
In World’s poorest countries some of the worst orphanages are pushed toward corrupting families, to sell them their children under the false promise of a better life for them. They will be resold to the best offerer in the international black market. Sad but true. And that’s why children should skip the intermediary step of orphanages.
Why is this interesting?
Negative consequences are unintended when we don’t know the chains of causes and effects leading to them. It’s difficult, very difficult to know and connect all forces in a context and to establish their relationships but it’s the only direction to take to minimize the unintended harmful effects. Sometimes we have to focus on not making mistakes rather than winning so the right move is to not make the bad one.
Systems Thinking is what we need more of
Systems Thinking is an interdisciplinary approach providing one of the most effective and efficient models of reality. By mapping parts and their relationships within a considered system, we have a better understanding of the contexts and we can work to identify to promote the system to a healthier status.
I’ve always been thinking in systems and I didn’t know that. It’s only a few decades ago that I’ve discovered this way to think and to look at the world and I’ve never stopped researching more about it. Systems Thinking is a vast discipline and you will find one definition for every scholar. One life wouldn’t be enough to study all researches, approaches, and frameworks but it is worth it to find our way to be better systems thinkers. As today is one of the best chances to survive as a species.