For all the effort that goes into making plans, it’s often something unexpected that puts a wrench into their success. Unintended consequences can make even the best-laid plans falter. Facebook is a great tool for connecting with people, but its foundation in anonymous users has enabled bullying, trolling and subversive disinformation to impact democracy. Would things be different today if an account required proof of identity from day one? On the positive side, consider the size and importance of apps to our lives today, even though Apple initially launched them for Apple software only, but opening the app store up to third-party developers led to the millions of applications that make our mobile’s indispensable.
Exploring the potential consequences of your plans is critical to raising the chance of success. Consider both the positives: how else might your product be used and who else might use it? And the negatives: what’s the downside of long-term use of your product? While it’s especially hard to consider the potential negatives, it’s these that often cause the biggest problems. So explore the potential unintended consequences early and often, then ensure your plan considers them.