Last week I was co-leading a residential MSP course. The class was discussing Benefits Realisation Management and, among other things, this prompted a discussion around dis-benefits. We tried to explain that a dis-benefit was not a risk, since it is something that is predictable outcome of the programme, and would be something that should be managed - managed down in this case - as you would with any other benefit.
We were struggling for an apt illustration. Then one came to me.
Think of a surgical team (an illustration used before by Fred Brooks in his classic, The Mythical Man Month). Among the team there will be a surgeon or nurse whose particular role is to control the bleeding around the wound created by surgery. Bleeding is a consequence of conventional surgery. It has to happen. It's not desirable., but it is inevitable once the patient is cut open. [I trust you are not feeling faint and woozy ...] The appropriate response is not to try to avoid any bleeding - usualy futile - but to control the bleeding, to make sure there is not an excessive loss of blood during the procedure and after.
So when you think of a dis-benefit, think of bleeding; the bleeding edge of benefits realisation.