The Ripple Effect


Have you ever considered the true consequences of just turning in a report 30 minutes later then requested, showing up the measly 4 minutes late to a meeting or even taking the clothes out of the washer tomorrow verse today?

Too often we think another minute, hour or day wont hurt; and in many situations it might not “hurt” anything. But, all of our actions have a ripple effect either positive or negative, and that minute, hour or day delay will have an effect.

A college online assignment that is turned in a second beyond the deadline will cost a percentage reduction of the grade. In the professional space being late to a meeting or turning in a report late could cost you your credibility, reputation or your future promotion. In a health situation one minute can be the difference between life and death. There is no coming back from that consequence.

How do we mitigate unintended consequences? Start by understanding the ripple effect of our actions.


A ripple in water can start by simply throwing a rock or touching it with a single finger. No matter how big the impact, there will be a ripple. Our daily actions have the same effect. One simple action can affect our careers, relationships and future in general.

Putting your clothes in the dryer tomorrow versus today could cause them to smell moldy and you might think “I can hardly smell it, no one will notice” but what about the person that you share your cubicle with. Could this cause them to have concerns about your hygiene or attire for the professional environment? When they are asked to provide feedback about your professionalism, will you receive a glowing review?

I know this sounds extreme but consider that it was a report that you turned in measly 30 minutes late.  Your boss’s assistant requested a report from you to be turned in by 1 pm on Monday morning. You had a long fun weekend and quite honestly did not find the report to be all that urgent, so you turned it in at 1:30 on Monday. What you did not know is that it was your boss that needed that report at 1:00 so they could review it prior to reviewing it with their boss at 1:30. The ripple effect not only effect you, the assistant, your boss, but also their boss. Your ripple can bring into question your reliability, accountability, engagement and commitment.

Make your ripples Responsibly, with Intent and Precision!

The tricky thing about the ripple effect is that you do not always now how your decisions will affect others or yourself for that matter. And there is no way to retract or slow down the ripple either. Having one excuse or another does not change the effect of the ripple.


Cause the ripples that will lead to your success. Be punctual, have integrity, show compassion, stay engaged, and take responsibility. Make your ripples Responsibly, with Intent and Precision!