The Cobra Effect

When did you last attempt a solution that made the actual problem worse? ๐Ÿ™ƒ

I bet it happens to the best of us – at home, at work- when well-intended decisions to fix a problem make the problem worse, usually when not well-thought through. Just learned that there’s a term for it, thanks to Bryan Kearney. It’s called ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‚๐จ๐›๐ซ๐š ๐„๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ. ๐Ÿ

As the story goes, once upon a time in colonial India, there was a problem with venomous cobras scaring people in Delhi. The then British government decided to take action to rectify the problem.

They offered citizens a financial incentive to redeem dead cobras.
Imagine how it backfired- Entrepreneurial Indian citizens started to breed cobras!

Cobra breeders killed the majority of the cobras to redeem them for money. When the government eventually found out about these loopholes, they stopped the financial incentives. The cobra breeders released the snakes back to the streets since they were no longer valuable to them – making matters worse.

Similarly, Airbus wanted to improve the flying experience by making the noise inside its airplanes quieter.ย It was successful in making its planes quieter; however, passengers and pilots could easilyย eavesdrop on other conversations and hear the cries of babies, as well as hear the door to theย bathroom closing, more loudly. Overall, it likely made the flying experience worse.

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