I aliased “The Cobra Effect” because it is a direct kind of perverse incentive.

In India, there was a cobra problem people were often being attacked by cobras. So they began rewarding people for bringing them cobra skin. What happened? People started farming cobras. This did not help the problem. So they stopped incentivizing this behavior — they stopped rewarding it. This resulted in the farmers letting out the cobras, thereby worsening the problem.

When you incentivize some target which can be exploited, it will be.

Say, asking your customer service team to have a higher response rate. The intention is to have more customers helped, but the result may be that the team sends more automated responses.

Related: Mental Models

Incoming links: Mental Models
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