“A small change at a certain point in time can substantially affect events at a later stage and alter the course of the future.”
EXAMPLE: An employee in a lowly position at a company is offered a move to another company for five times the salary. They decide to stay – the next day they are offered a promotion, and within three years are promoted to senior manager. The company that offered them the initial position goes bust.
“Subjects will improve or modify their behaviour in response to the knowledge that they are being measured.”
EXAMPLE: Telling an employee you’ll be listening in on a call will change their behaviour during that call, something that wouldn’t have happened if you’d listened in without telling them
“The more expectation placed on the people, the more that person will deliver.”
EXAMPLE: Increasing targets for sales staff will increase their output
“A small change causes another small change which causes another small change and the cycle continues, often resulting in a much larger overall effect that initially anticipated.”
EXAMPLE: Everyone at a company leaves between 5:30 and 6pm. One employee decides to start leaving at 5pm. Another employee decides to do the same, which encourages another one, and so on.
“The failure of an individual part of a system triggers the failing of successive parts so the whole system fails.”
EXAMPLE: A member of the finance team becomes ill and goes off work for several weeks. The other team members pick up his workload. One, already under stress, cannot cope and has to take time off for stress. Another makes a serious error and is suspended while the issue is investigated. The remaining members cannot cope with the workload and the management has to bring in new staff temporarily.
Jamie Lawrence is Insights Director at Wagestream, a financial wellbeing app that makes money less stressful for people in work. Founded by a group of leading financial charities, Wagestream's mission is driven by their social charter: everything they build must improve financial wellbeing. Jamie was previously Managing Editor of HRZone,...