Unintended Consequences

Unintended consequences are what happens when a decision we make has an unanticipated outcome - and there wouldn't be much more for us to learn if we stopped there. Join Paul Orlando in this pathway as he explores what unintended consequences are, how connections in a system can lead to unexpected results, the causes of unintended consequences and the measures you should take to avoid these.

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5 video modules • 51 minutes

  • What are Unintended Consequences?

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so they say. In the first video of this series, Paul Orlando lays down the basics for what a system is and explores how second-order thinking leads to unintended consequences and system surprises.

    Paul Orlando06:36

  • Good Intentions and Bad Outcomes

    Trying to make improvements isn’t as easy. In fact, fixing a problem can occasionally make things worse. But why? The root of the failure is often in missing how parts of a system are connected. In this video, Paul covers how impacts can vary, depending on the size of the system and why some projects made their problems worse - not better.

    Paul Orlando06:50

  • The Three Categories of Unintended Consequences

    In this video, Paul talks us through the three main categories of unintended consequences, i.e., "Unexpected benefits", "Unexpected drawbacks" and "Perverse results"

    Paul Orlando10:48

  • Foundational

    Five Classic Causes of Unintended Consequences

    In this video, Paul talks about Robert Merton's mention of the five causes of unintended consequences, which are error, basic values, short-term vs. long-term interests, ignorance, and the self-defeating prophecy. 

    Paul Orlando13:51

  • Foundational

    When Technology Results in Unintended Consequences

    In the final video of this series, Paul mentions some more causes of unintended consequences and also gives examples of some large tech companies, which are great examples of things growing quickly. He finally finishes by talking about the importance of unintended consequences. 

    Paul Orlando13:49

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