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Well-intentioned actions that ironically bring some form of punishment

Decisions to act set in train all manner of responses and changes that managers often do not foresee (See my posts of Aug. 1, 2006 on second-order consequences and Aug. 28, 2005 on unintended consequences.). One ironic outcome happens when a well-intentioned decision boomerangs.

This blog has touched on several instances of “no good deed going unpunished.” This is not to discourage ameliorative actions, but to point out that all decisions involve tradeoffs and reverberate without complete control (See my posts of February 10, 2007 on law firm experience in an industry being held against them; March 16, 2006 on IP recovery programs that encourage wrong priorities; Sept. 21, 2005 on knowledge management efforts that raise litigation risks; May 21, 2007 on good publicity about a law department that irritates senior executives; May 20, 2005 on having a star lawyer but risking his or her loss to a recruiter; Sept. 22, 2006 on marketing the department’s services but then facing overload and an instance at May 10, 2006 with Kraft; and Nov. 21, 2005 on client satisfaction surveys that raise the bar of performance expectations.