The Law of Unintended Consequences stands ready to surprise us at any time.
This past weekend, our church passed out Thank You Notes to the hundreds of volunteers who served during the weekend services. Using a tear off card in the bulletin, attenders were invited to express their gratitude to the men and women who cared for their children, served their coffee, and contributed to their experience.
And they did.
The number of people who expressed their appreciation to our parking team (who were serving in the cold, pouring rain) was so extensive that our outbound traffic was delayed about 15 minutes longer than normal (oops). People were even stopping their cars in the middle of a 4 lane highway to hand TY cards to the Police Officers!
As a Project Manager, my first reaction was instinctive. How can I fix this problem of slow traffic? What do I need to do to stop this behavior?
I know that you are smarter and faster than me…and you can see this clearly. There was nothing to “fix”. Volunteers who serve were being appreciated! Everyone understood that the slow traffic was due to the bad weather and a large crowd saying “thank you!’
Learn from this and remind yourself that our best ideas will have unintended consequences. But that doesn’t make them bad ideas. We don’t have to apologize for every negative reaction. We must learn how to rise above the chaos and evaluate from a higher perspective.
Was there an overall positive result?
- If yes (positive result), can the negative consequence be alleviated without harming the overall benefit? In this case, they were inseparable. We needed to allow the chaos so that people could minister to one another.
- If no (positive result) then it’s time to re-evaluate the project
Thanks for listening.