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The Law of Unintended Consequences

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 18 January 2011

 


Title

The Law of Unintended Consequences
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 127
Posted DateTuesday 18 January 2011 12:47 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_consequences ... 
http://www.malariaworld.org/blog/fish-and-mosquitoes ... 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweatshop ... 
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JQP/is_292/ai_303097 ... 
http://www.alfiekohn.org/books/pbr.htm ... 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armchair_theorizing ... 

It is far too easy both in business and in international development to be armchair philosophers. We so often think that the world's problems are simple and that we have the answers to them.

But the evidence shows otherwise. We live in a world of clouds not one of clocks.

There are always unintended consequences of our actions. Sometimes these are beneficial or a minor annoyance but often they are worse than the problem we are trying to solve.

Konrad J. Friedemann defines the law of unintended consequences as “the proposition that every undertaking, however well-intentioned, is generally accompanied by unforeseen repercussions that can overshadow the principal endeavor.”



The list goes on ... in complex world we must always stop and think and anticipate the unintended consequences of our actions. It always makes sense to talk and take advise and to conduct small pilot experiments, to probe and observe before committing to a major change.




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