Decision Making Process

Step 1: Identify the problem. Sometimes just realizing a particular situation is ethical can be the important first step. Occasionally in our organizations, we may feel that it’s just the “way of doing business” and not think to question the ethical nature.

Step 2: Identify the potential issues involved. Who could get hurt? What are the issues that could negatively impact people and/or the company? What is the worst-case scenario if we choose to do nothing?

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Step 3: Review relevant ethical guidelines. Does the organization have policies and procedures in place to handle this situation? For example, if a client gives you a gift, there may be a rule in place as to whether you can accept gifts and if so, the value limit of the gift you can accept.

Step 4: Know relevant laws and regulations. If the company doesn’t necessarily have a rule against it, could it be looked at as illegal?

Step 5: Obtain consultation. Seek support from supervisors, coworkers, friends, and family, and especially seek advice from people who you feel are moral and ethical.

Step 6: Consider possible and probable courses of action. What are all of the possible solutions for solving the problem? Brainstorm a list of solutions—all solutions are options during this phase.

Step 7: List the consequences of the probable courses of action. What are both the positive and negative benefits of each proposed solution? Who can the decision affect?

Step 8: Decide on what appears to be the best course of action. With the facts we have and the analysis done, choosing the best course of action is the final step. There may not always be a “perfect” solution, but the best solution is the one that seems to create the most good and the least harm.

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