Advice: Be Wary of Unintended consequences Unintended consequences often occur when something is changed. I don’t think anyone deliberately wanted to destroy pension schemes in the UK when the banks were saved by money printing and low interest rates which then forced bond yields into ‘no interest’ territory. I don’t suppose the Victorians intended to wipe out the red squirrel population when they brought some grey squirrels from America to look pretty in our city parks. When strong passwords were mandated for secure websites involving upper case, lower case, numbers and symbology to make them more secure, people started writing them down where miscreants could steal them. Use-it-or-lose it budget policies were intended to lead to more efficient distribution of resources. In reality, it's not uncommon for managers to blow year end budgets on frivolous purchases so that they don't lose it next year. Not all unintended consequences are unwanted. Famously, the drug Viagra was developed to lower blood pressure, with its main current use being discovered as a side effect in clinical trials. My favourite relates to the British Raj. The government, concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was successful as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. However the enterprise of local people was not considered. They began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, they scrapped the reward program, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation much worse. I have a personal story around ‘unintended consequences’. I have been introducing my 6 year old grand-daughter to the concept of inner peace (I mentioned this in a previous session on advice to grandparents). She seems to be taking it on board and her confidence grows to cope with life’s little challenges. It also seems to be increasing her individuality. Recently she went to a frozen party where all the girls were dressed as princesses. My grand-child was confident enough to refuse her princess costume and go as a ladybird.
Advice on Interpretation of Customer Reviews Tonight’s advice concerns customer reviews. Who regularly writes customer reviews? Who reads them? OK, this advice is for readers, including myself. Has anyone else noticed that customer reviews are now ubiquitous? Whatever you are buying from holidays on cruise ships to incontinence pads there will be reviews. They are taking over the world. I rarely buy anything these days without checking the Amazon review. Who are the people that have time to write customer reviews? Are they heroic figures who act in the interests of future purchases? Are they people who have been let down by their purchase? Are they people with too much time on their hands? The bribery, such as a free ticket in a lottery to win a car, does not quite do it for me so I tend not to write reviews. I do know I have only written one once when I received exceptional service in a Prague hotel. Yet I read them. However they need to be filtered to spot the crazy ones. Here are a few that raise the alarm bell or a chuckle. Big Sur Hotel ‘We found it difficult to sleep with the noise of the waves lapping on the shore.’ Recipe Book Review ‘After only 18 minutes in the microwave the book caught fire.’ Banana Slicer review The slicer did not work because my banana bent the wrong way´.’ House let through Uber The house was not bad but they did not even have a pizza cutter in their kitchen Movie Review of The Wolf of Wall Street ‘There were no wolves in the movie’ Book review of How to Avoid Huge Ships by Capt. Trimmer ‘I read this book before going on vacation and could not find my ship in port. So tonight’s advice is: filter your customer reviews and don’t buy a banana slicer for left handed bananas.