"I didn't mean to cause this" (aka Unintended consequences)

I’m not sure if I’m more into the topic, just more aware of the issue, or that this is simply happening more and more often. Many tech solutions that have been developed around the world are facing some criticism because of the side effects they generate: addiction, jobs destruction, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, lack of face to face interactions, etc. We are, in fact, facing some (I hope) unintended consequences of solutions that perhaps started with the best initial intentions but ended up affecting people in different ways.

Companies such as Netflix have been open about their goals. Netflix CEO stated “we actually compete against sleep”. Despite it might sound creepy for many, at least, he’s being honest about how they see their business, and people, are still into it. On the other hand, solutions being tested such as driverless cars are being attacked in California as they are affecting jobs and other groups of people.

Is it the companies’ fault? Is it our fault as design/technology/business people? Is it our fault as users, that we are now becoming victims of our own behaviors?

I’m not sure if companies are taking the unintended consequences into consideration and how they might mitigate those consequences. I’m not sure if they are bringing ethics into the conversation and thinking how their solutions affect the whole system in the early phases of the development process.

Some good friends (Ana, Carlos, Javier, Marco, Oscar, Pamela, Paola, Rafa, Ricardo, Sergio) and I have been discussing how greed is making companies to lean towards more short term solutions. So we might need to go back to the conversation of purpose, business metrics and rewards systems.

Some questions that we could start asking: 

- How sustainable is our business in the long run?

- Have we applied the whole view approach and the potential consequences of our solutions?

- How might we redefine business success? In that sense, we might also be able to redefine what a successful career means.

- Are we contributing in the creation of healthy, non-greedy businesses? Is it actually possible?

- If we believe that people care about companies that care (not only in terms of their products and services, but also in terms of their employees and their lives), how might we give more visibility to those companies/firms that care? 

- How might we build companies that can help make this a better place and society to live and thrive?

As always, this is just a personal point of view and a conversation starter. Would you add more questions? Or ideally, do you have any answers? :)