When you’re making plans and you must decide on the best course of action, you weigh a number of different options and choices. Although cost, time, and preferences will play a role in determining your path, they aren’t the only factors you need to take into account. In most situations—and especially those that will have significant ramifications on people and resources—you must account for the effect on people, rather than simply opting for the most expedient route. Therefore, weighing the benefits and consequences of each choice is an important part of your decision-making process.

In his book, Problem-Solving and Decision Making: Illustrated Course Guides, Second Edition, Jeff Butterfield offers several “do’s” and “don’ts” for arriving at an ethical solution to your problem or challenge. Before you make your final decision, be sure you’ve taken these points into consideration:

ETHICAL SOLUTIONS DO’S AND DON’TS

Identify Ethical Issues

Do 

  • Consider whether your decision benefits everyone involved
  • Look for ethical alternatives to the most efficient or practical solution if necessary

Don’t 

  • Don’t make decisions that cause harm to others
  • Don’t forget that others have a stake in the outcome of your decision 

Consider Costs and Benefits

Do 

  • Weigh the pros and cons of each decision, including ethical factors
  • Determine whether the end result justifies the means
  • Find options that produce the most good and do the least harm 

Don’t 

  • Don’t select an option that has far more costs than benefits

Consider Other People

Do

  • Be sensitive to how your actions affect others inside and outside the organization

Don’t 

  • Don’t treat others poorly as you make decisions and solve problems; they are unlikely to forget

Serve Broad Interests

Do

  • Consider the objectives of the organization as well as your own
  • Look for solutions that serve the interests of a broad group

Don’t 

  • Don’t make a decision solely on how it benefits you

Be True to Yourself

Do

  • Remember that you are judged on the success of your solution and on the steps you took to accomplish the task

Don’t

  • Don’t compromise your values for a short-term benefit (Butterfield, 41)

Reference: Butterfield, J. 2013. Problem-Solving and Decision Making: Illustrated Course Guides, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.

 

What are your “do’s and don’ts” for the decision-making process? How do you help lead a group of people to make decisions? Share your experiences and ideas below.