Can A Process Be Ethical?

Ethics is the philosophical discipline that studies morality. Morality is about what is fundamentally right and wrong, towards yourself as well as to others. I wonder how often 'what is right and what is wrong' is being asked in organizations. It should play an important role in strategic decision-making, particularly in these days, as making ethical mistakes can lead to serious consequences. Most organizations have a code of conduct all employees need to sign. 'Doing the right thing' has become more important than risk management alone.

Many have discussed the idea of what constitutes an ethical organization, or ethical targets and performance indicators. If aggressive cost saving targets leave a procurement officer no choice but to work with suppliers that use environmentally unfriendly materials or even use child labor, that is clearly unethical.

But I have never heard of ethical considerations when designing a process. On the philosophical level, for me, a process is a promise. A process promises that if you use it, the outcome will be timely, predictable, and correct. Processes are often obligatory. You have to use it. If the process itself cannot live up to the promise (because it is for instance too slow), it creates frustration, anger, and in the end lethargy. And it drives people to think of ways to circumvent it. Unethical behavior, yes, but driven by an unethical process.

Considering what is right and what is wrong, ethics in other words, shouldn't only be a strategic discussion, they should be part of every business case, or systems implementation.

Comments:

Process or corporation cannot be ethical. They are not persons, they do not have concisence of any kind. Corporations only liability is to make money to it's founders, people are just and only numbers in the eyes of the corporation. Jack Welch was seen as a great leader. His autobiography is studied in all leadership classes around the world. Was he loved leader? No. He was hated. He was called as 'neutron-jack' cause whereever he went, people got fired and just estates stayed untouched. He saved his company - well, for time being. About the processes, hammer is great to hit the nail, yet not so good when fixing the vase. One size does not fit everybody, same applies to processes. Let's take example from ITILv3. Corporate can decide to be completely a slave to the (ITIL) processes and be very inefficient. Corporation can also use ITIL processes what they originally was ment to be, guidelines and collections of best practices, if it fits, use it - if doesn't, who cares. That is the efficient way. People and management have mostly forgotten how great tools things like taking personal responsibility, leadership from the front (lead, follow or get out of my way), really caring about customers and employees is. Hiding behind service request ticketing systems, leading by email and excel sheets, I say - that is bullshit.

Posted by Pekka on August 31, 2009 at 05:42 AM PDT #

Menes Rafal: Reading the brief about: ┬┐if process can be ethical?, it deserves correlation analysis: if the ethical values weights more than performance at the entry stages. Companies do not pay for executive: illness, worries or charms; they pay for results, Although I personally believe on values and good sinergy among high perfrmance teams. I have found dificulties sometimes to make executives understant that continues improvement and valuable biz accumens are not in the opposite direction towards the market race prize.

Posted by Menes Rafael on September 03, 2009 at 02:46 AM PDT #

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