Unwanted Consequences

 When making a decision, be sure to ask: “What Else Could Happen?”

 When taking medicine, unintended consequences sometimes happen. When making decisions, unintended consequences sometimes happen. Taking medicine produces side effects that can’t always be predicted so we are often told of some possible undesirable consequences. When making decisions, we are almost never told of some possible undesirable consequences. Thinking about possible side effects is up to the decision maker. Its your choice.

Decision making involves: Options and Outcomes. Options are the possible actions you can take; what you might choose to do. Outcomes are what happens as a result of your choice of options. Herein lies the problem. There are unlimited possible options and unlimited possible outcomes. You can’t possibly know them all. This blog is a focus on outcomes (consequences).

One way to improve your decision making, and to avoid some unwanted side effects, is to expand your consideration of possible outcomes/consequences. Not paying attention to these possibilities is a major cause of poor decision making. But remember, good decision making doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. Side effects happen.

Because decision makers can’t consider all of the possible information available about options and outcomes, totally rational decisions are unlikely. But we can improve our choice making. We need to remember that the choice of option is up to us; but not the choice of outcome. We do not choose or control the outcome/ consequence, but good decision making can influence it.

A possible influential decision strategy is what I have called “The Outcomes Window”, (Creative Decision Making, 2003). This emphasizes the possible positive and negative outcomes for both the decision maker and others. Decision outcomes, almost always, effect more that just the decider.

Ask yourself these four basic questions. What are the possible positive outcomes for self? What are the possible negative outcomes for self? What are the possible positive outcomes for others? What are the possible negative outcomes for others?

Some other outcomes questions: Why do some questions have more answers than others? Whom do you consider as others? Is it easier to think of positive or negative outcomes? Which is more important, outcomes to you or to others?

Because failure to consider possible positive and negative consequences for self and other is a major cause of unwanted consequences (outcomes), when making important personal decisions, be sure to think about how you are deciding as well as what you are deciding. The process of deciding determines the goodness of the decision. The goodness of the outcome is influenced, but not determined, by the deciding process. Bad outcomes happen.

The best-laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal. Murphy’s Laws





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  1. Eugene Unger says:

    I think “ unintended consequences “ is the definitive definition of life itself! We live and die with the results of our decisions or lack there of . ! Some thoughtful some thoughtless ! So we do our best and live with the consequences . Trust and go



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