Can you see the consequences of your actions?
Many movies and books have been made about travelling to the future or having the clairvoyance to see into the future. A notable mention is a science fiction movie from 2004 called "The Butterfly Effect" starring Ashton Kutcher. In the movie a couple of kids do a mischief that goes horribly wrong. The main character manages to repeatedly go back in time and alter his actions that day, each time resulting in different fates. One fate, for example, results in the main character finding himself crippled.
The lesson of that movie is that sometimes it is better not to know or to see the full consequences of your actions. Sometimes the hardships we endure make us become better people, resulting in higher quality lives. But, is knowing the consequences of your actions a bad thing?
Let us bring that question down a notch to something more trivial: The food you purchase and eat.
Personally, when I go shopping for food I typically buy food with a few meals in consideration. A week could look like this:
Tuesday: Vegetable lasagna
Wednesday: Chicken soup
Thursday: Hamburgers with baked potatoes
Friday: Tacos with guacamole
I rely on the ingredients I have at home as well as the food I purchase. On a week like this I will end up with a set of ingredients, like:
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado
- 1 Feta cheese
- Taco sauce
You get the picture. So, on Monday I start making my salad but realize I have got new plans to work out in the evening which makes my plans of salad not filling enough. I add some feta cheese to get a bit more energy (and taste) to my salad.
The day after I find myself, with aching biceps, planning my vegetable lasagna for my date (who is vegetarian) and realize I already used the feta cheese I needed in my lasagna. It is quite pointless without it so I feel very stupid.
I consider a few creative options: Can I replace the feta cheese with...taco sauce?! Should I take my date to a restaurant instead? Not likely, would probably ruin my budget for the rest of the month! I realize I could still make my, rather boring, "Vegetarian chickpea wraps with fried potatoes" but that would in turn cancel the meal plans for both Thursday and Friday, for which I need the tortillas and potatoes.
Aaaaaargh! I probably have to go take that 45 minute return trip to the supermarket...again.
This is not just an example of frustration but one of something called propagation. You make one small choice (having a work out) that might not seem like a big deal but it affects everything else. Sometimes the end result is small, like having to choose another meal on Thursday, and sometimes a choice could result in a chain of linked choices that could have a major impact.
For all we know the choice of working out and adding feta cheese to my salad would cause the meal for my date to be boring, which caused my date to be unimpressed, which in turned made her to not want to see me again, which had disastrous effects on my love life and caused my life to be miserable and pointless, which finally caused me to end up spending the rest of my days writing blog posts about how important grocery shopping is...
Selections that will cause a chain reaction
Jokes aside, I actually have a point with this: Your sales reps have this problem! Some options your customers want will just slightly adjust a configuration. Other selections will cause a chain reaction that will leave the customer crippled without a viable configuration. Do you know which those selections are in your business?
The lesson is: Make sure you have logic that works. Either you serve your customer something that will make him or her want to continue the relationship with your company or you need to go back to the drawing board.
Lastly, do check out that sci-fi flick "The butterfly effect", it is a pretty cool movie and a good example of propagation.