- Don't make knee jerk decisions. Take the emotion out of your decisions and let some time pass before you "act".
- Get input. Preferably from multiple perspectives!
- Think ahead. Try to anticipate what else you should consider; who else you should consider and how else your decision might have impact.
- Have a plan that includes (a) the objective you want to achieve, (b) a plan to get to that objective and (c) any possible outcomes from your plan.
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How many times do we see a negative impact from seemingly harmless or well-intentioned actions?
We see it from governments who implement well-intentioned legislation only to cause negative affects in the "real world". They react to a situation and impact everyone, rather than focus on the root cause.
We see it from companies who will have a knee-jerk reaction to a "one off" situation and bring in rules that have negative consequences. If you implement restrictive policies because of one bad experience then you create a less welcoming environment and that will be felt when trying to compete for talent with companies that are not so restrictive.
We all do it at a personal level. We do or say things that inadvertently cause ripples. It might be social niceties such as inviting some people to the party and inadvertently upsetting others, or by complimenting one friend and another takes offense.
If you want to avoid unintended consequences, then you need to think "bigger picture", and you need to be sensitive to your actions.
Some things you might consider: