Consciousness of Consequence:


I’ve coined the term “consciousness of consequence” to help explain the interconnectedness between the decisions we make and those we don’t – or perhaps those we choose not to action.

Our consciousness needs to kick in even before we make a decision, with that final path typically precluding us from other options. The hope is that we are conscious of all options, and the resulting consequence of choosing one over another, rather than predetermining a preference and making sure that one stacks up.

What we so often ignore, though, is realising and rationalising the trade-offs we are constraining ourselves to. If we rationalise our path or direction and all the indicators look promising, how have we factored the options sufficiently enough to convince ourselves we are on the right track, and not just the convenient track?

In business we’ve got templates for Business Cases (“what other options have been considered? / Include “do nothing”) but these are generally orchestrated in such a way to support our priority or focus. I’m also not convinced that we pay enough weighting to social impact in these assessments, either, to come up with a solid outcome greater than sole economic justification.

In terms of consciousness, I’ve suspended, even cancelled, projects that are in-train or have halted those about to kick off just because ‘they didn’t feel right’. Now that’s a rationale to terrify most accountants and engineers but the notion of intuition and instinct is one we need to heed more, and it generally has very little to do with simply buying more time.

So, I’m encouraging my clients, and others who’ll listen, to seriously acknowledge the understanding of consequence either as awareness of trade-offs, and options-handicap, as much as confirming benefit.

We might just be surprised with the decisions we finally decide on.