The Effective Executive – 3 Sources of Unintended Consequences

Veteran, new and aspiring executives need methods to be successful in their organization. There are 1000s of leadership podcasts, videos, blogs, and articles focused on soft skills in leadership. But few content providers address methods to improve executive performance.

We have witnessed many executives who are efficient (doing things right), but few executives are effective (doing the right things). We believe this is misguided and aim to remedy the shortfall with executives.

This is the 49th episode of the Effective Executive podcast. In this episode, Tripp Babbitt identifies 3 sources of unintended consequences. Download our Effective Executive Starter Kit.

Show Notes

The Effective Executive – Episode 49

3 Sources of Unintended Consequences

1. Inability to See the Whole

The Whole vs The Parts

2. Overcontrol

3. Incentives



[00:00:01] This is the 49th episode of the effective executive podcast and YouTube video, and just if you’re new to the channel, I record more things for YouTube than I do for my podcast. And so you can look and see. For instance, this past week I did a follow up on Wells Fargo Encounter that I think executives can learn from.


[00:00:30] But this week I wanted to cover three sources of unintended consequences. And there’s a lot of different things, but I’ve kind of boiled it down to three that I see happen in the organizations and the three are the inability to see the whole overcontrol and incentives. And so those are the top three I see in organizations.


[00:00:56] And so let’s start with the first one, which is the inability to see the whole now this whole channel and podcast is all about making you become or are helping you become a more effective executive.


[00:01:13] And I always start with every executive and executive team with them being able to see the same things as a group, because typically you’re going to have the CEO who can see the whole a little bit better, but but often not as well as you’d like to see. But then you have the individual departments with their senior vice presidents or executive vice presidents that are reporting to the president or the CEO of the company. And because they’re departmentalized and specialized, they don’t really know much about other areas.


[00:01:52] And it could be finance, knowing anything about operations or sales or, you know, I.T., you know, all these are independent areas and everybody’s kind of got their head down and everybody stay in their lane and they don’t really see the whole. And this is borne most of the analytical type thinking that goes on comes from Frederick Taylor back in the early nineteen hundreds, you know, separate everything out into pieces. And all organizations have been set up this way. There are better ways, but I’m not going to get into that today. But again, if you’re new to the channel, one of the things I start with and you can go to my playlists is analytic, analytical versus synthetic thinking and analytical is very natural. We break it apart, you know, down to the pieces and we optimize each of the pieces. Everybody does their own thing. The senior vice president operations versus senior vice president of finance, you know, they don’t. There’s no need to talk, you know, and that’s a little severe, but but in essence, that’s what happens because they don’t really understand each other’s specialty or discipline or department that they have and nobody steps across the line. You know, that’s not allowed.


[00:03:14] So understanding the difference between analytical and synthetic thinking is understanding that the part some of the the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.Meaning? All the things operating together is what makes up your organization and how well it performs, and I typically use in my education system what I call the customer lens because the customer doesn’t see departments, they don’t care. They only care about getting what they need and they don’t care about your departments. They don’t care about your specialties. They don’t care about your turf wars. So that synthetic thinking portion is focusing in on what you you develop that skill, the interconnections, the handoffs. And these are typically where your unintended consequences occur in the organization. The more you can see, the whole the less unintended consequences you’re going to have. They’re not going to completely get rid of them all, but you’re going to be much better at it by being able to see things not only from a customer perspective, but understanding that enough about every other department and how things flow through the organization. OK, so that’s the first one inability to see the whole.


[00:04:41] The second is over control. And there are so many things that go on in organizations consciously and unconsciously to control employees, to control customers. And a lot of this is done through measures or, you know, plans that are given to customers. And there’s a lot of control that executives like to do. And again, I’ve mentioned this before, but I I see it more today than I have and previous decades in working with executives, you know, went to centralize everything.


[00:05:22] Everything’s got to be planned. We’ve got to have project managers and then we have these dictates that go on in the form of policies and rules and procedures. And, you know, for instance, as an example, this kind of severe example. But I but this actually happened in a telecom company. Every customer that calls in has to be verified. So guess what? The person on the contact center gets a call from a customer and goes through the process of verifying and find out the customer. I was only trying to find out what your hours of operation are, so there’s a lot of waste there associated with that and for contact centers, you know, with average handle time and all those types of things, just kind of ridiculous. But so you may want to understand what the request is from the customer before you start trying to verify the customer. So that’s the second one is overcontrol can lead to these types of unintended consequences that, you know, you didn’t intend because you can’t plan every iota of everything that’s going on. And that’s why it’s better to work off of principle than it is to dictate each and every element of what a worker does or what what what the customer is trying to get out of the organization.


[00:06:52] All right. The third thing, incentives in the software, a big one. But in sales, you could oversell your gift, something the system that you have a you know, a moderate system is all somewhat needed. But you give them the big one. You give them the Cadillac because you get more commission on it. It’s not good for the customers, not good for the company. And in the long run, so especially as I had a neighbor, actually, I got a new system put in, came over and we started talking and he said, well, they told me to get this, you know, super duper, you know, fifteen thousand dollar each HVAC system for my company or for my my home. Now, I paid a lot less than that for my system and does what I needed to do and seems to do it efficiently and effectively from my perspective. And so I did wasn’t. Sold something that was bigger than what I needed and now my neighbors wondering, geez, maybe this company is ripping me off, so get those types of things and, you know, Google reviews things. So that’s where people start to think that they get ripped off. They get loud about it. There’s a lot of different ways that they have that happen. Another way is through Cuota.


[00:08:26] You know, you got to hit that target. And sometimes quality is compromised in manufacturing. You know, it’s this mindset, again, borne from, you know, I mean, a mentality of quantity being greater than the quality. I’ve got to get somebody out in the day. I’ve got to make somebody calls in a day. I’ve got to fix so many computers in a day or two phones. And it doesn’t matter what it is. Quota’s often have unintended consequences associated with it. Now, this even happens at the executive level. There is a large consulting firm that had all types of incentives for the partners in the organization. And, you know, they somebody saw that they could get a nice commission or a nice bonus if they did certain things that really went against the customer. And then, of course, the president of the consulting firm said basically, well, you know, you should know better. That compromised the customer. You know, next time you do that, you’re going to get fired. But the incentives there. So why would you put in an incentive that counters what you supposedly value? And so these things conflict often. So these are three things that you can look for in your organization. Inability to see the whole is a problem that creates unintended consequences. The second overcontrol and the third are is incentives. And that’s what I wanted to cover this week.

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