Running in Circles (pt. 2): How ethics is gaining importance when considering what to go for

Thomas Verhoef

In the previous article, we looked at how easily we overlook our employees when trying to achieve innovation or a long-term business advantage when this perspective is actually a key ingredient.
In this article, we want to highlight how your view needs to expand to encapture the highly relevant ethical perspective on things. Let’s first look at a short recap and then move on to see how ethics are permeating your decisions and have, in fact, always done.

Circles as perspectives

We saw that as a product or service team, you’re always looking to find the intersection where you’ll be able to innovate. A well-known diagram these days.

This slightly alters when you take on the business perspective. Here, we’re not talking about one product or service but your business strategy and the underlying variables. It boils down to the same idea, but you are now looking for a product-market fit.

Easily forgotten but oh so crucial is the fact that it will eventually be your colleagues, your employees, your teams that will put in the effort to make it all more than just a dream.

Surely, we are all set to go after bringing some different perspectives? I do think you are, even with a less in-depth analysis of all the above-mentioned perspectives. Sometimes, it will be better to try, fail, learn, stand up, and do it all again with more experience under your belt. But I also think it does depend on the importance of other perspectives you could cast over your ‘ideas’, your ‘endeavours’, your ‘goals’. And sometimes, you are bound to consider ethics to the extreme implication of not having anything more to build at the end of this analysis. It will not make sense anymore. And sensible as we are, we will deviate from our path as both employees and customers.

Woulda, coulda, but shoulda?

Oh yes, we human species are well trained to distinguish between ethical and less-so-ethical approaches, features, solutions, products, services, standpoints… businesses. And sometimes, we will even change our minds about it.

So, you can better figure out in advance that what you want to do is also something your employees want to do. And, also significant, what your customers want when considered outside the ‘efficiency-value-vaccuum’ but in the real world, where humans hold specific values in high esteem and don’t care about the (opportunity) costs may be, the added value or the efficiency it will bring, both to a company as well as to themselves. They/We don’t want it.

These days, with the rise of AI, the rise of robots, the rise of ubiquitous data-driven decisions, the rise of extended reality, the rise of all rises, we are asking ourselves and others a lot of exemplary questions like:

  • Is this something we actually approve of?
  • Is this the kind of society that we want? Is this a durable evolution of our interhuman relations?
  • Are we becoming self-defeating? Are we eradicating our worth?
  • Are we ready for this change? Do we want this? Do we need this?
  • What about the next generation? What will they do, how will they feel?

Ethics is becoming a much more important factor in considering solutions we can create. Ethics is becoming a way of delivering, selling, and marketing well-thought-out solutions. You and I - we - are beginning to believe we can indeed do business more ethically than before, with more consideration, more inclusive, less money-driven, bottom-line profit-driven. And without wanting to sound too doomsday-y, I think we should.

The exponential growth of technology is bringing us to think more and more about what we want from technology, what we need from businesses, and what we should have or should not. Giving ethics a thought when looking for sweet spots should not be an afterthought anymore. It’s more vital than ever because it affects life itself and our lives more deeply than ever.

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