Word of the Day: Iatrogenic

Posted by jlubans on October 06, 2022


I took notice of a new word (for me) in a WSJ opinion piece written by a college president opposing the proposed forgiveness of America’s student debt.
While making most debtors happy (but many debt-free tax payers unhappy) there are other side effects.
To quote the college president “it’s iatrogenic, inflating college costs as schools continue to pocket the subsidies Uncle Sam showers on them.”
The word comes from medicine. Essentially it means an unintentional side effect, an illness caused by the doctor, sometimes fatal. But, it is not only doctors who unintentionally make a mess of things.
Managers should be aware of iatrogenic effects. A policy decision may result in unanticipated, unintentional negative results. Like the infamous “unintended consequences” caused by recent public health policies.
So, organizational iatrogenesis is something for a manager to think about when making decisions: how to avoid it!
Do undertake risk assessment. Or, consider worst case scenarios. Or, have red teams and blue teams explore for iatrogenesis prior to policy implementation.
Anyway, a new word for me.
My book, Fables for Leaders is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

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