But Is It Ethical?

You’re working away, day-in, day-out, striving for a better business, a better way of working.  You overcome hurdles, win supporters, you even have a list of people of influence who don’t support you – and you’re working to win them over too.

But is it ethical?

This week we touch on something that I don’t think gets talked about often enough.  Whether it’s the driving force behind a movement to shift your consumption habits, political leanings, or just frankly fronting up to the office every day – what right do we have to change people?  When is enough enough? How do you sleep at night?

Well that’s what this week’s video is all about…


Video transcript and relevant links

Today I want to share a question that came up this week with one of my clients.

This particular client and I are using a tool which I use with a lot of clients and it’s a tool for stakeholder engagement and planning and communications and how we’re gonna get people on board, how we’re going to help to shift them from where they are today to maybe learning something new or bringing on a different perspective.

And so this particular person had asked me, he’d said “…we’ve got this tool and I’ve been working with it for a while now, and I feel like I’ve got this particular individual completely dialled.  I know which buttons to press, I know the type of answer I’m going to get…” and he was really questioning the ethics around doing that, and being able to do that, and I could see he was really wrestling with it.

So I thought it’d be worth sharing here because, I’m really keen to hear your perspective as well.  If you’re in change if you’re in transformation then this comes up. You can’t help but butt-up against this idea of “how far is reasonable?” “Is it our job to change people?” “Is it our job to do something else?” So I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

But I have an opinion on this and so I thought I’d share, there’s a few things for me.  I think the first thing that’s worth talking about is, use your powers for good.  

So when you discover the Jedi Mind Trick and you’re able to help people through unravelling their belief patterns and working through maybe old thinking and old patterns that are no longer useful, and helping to see that different perspective, it really is about using your powers for good.  It’s part of why I always teach a lot of self reflection in the work that I do as well because that is a bit of a safety rail in terms of, if you’re doing that self-reflection work at the same time as you are transforming externally, then it’s about keeping in check, and keeping in balance.

I think the second thing I would say is that any tool can be used for benefit or detriment depending on the hands that are in charge.  

Most of you know by now that I have horses and have loved doing that for a number of years and one of my teachers has this beautiful quote where he talks about the fact that any tool that we use with this animal can be used for good or bad.  Those of you that work with horses will also know that it’s pretty hard to beat a half tonne of horseflesh into doing something they don’t wanna do.

And so there’s this sense that, the tool is the tool.  And what this particular teacher has shown me is that it can be used for betterment or for detriment.  And really, that’s up to you. That’s up to the hands that are guiding the tool, and how that tool is used.

To give you an example out of the office…  KPIs, we’re all familiar with them. Those measurements, those performance indicators they can be used for betterment and for driving conversations about heading in the right direction, are we hitting our goals, are we seeking out the understanding that’s going to take us to the next level?  And equally KPIs can be used to bash people over the head when things are going our way. So it really comes back to the hands that are using the tool.

And I think finally, it’s worth talking a little bit about consent or contracting as I would call it.  So I’m fortunate enough that in most of engagements that I have, either working one-on-one with a leader or working with a leader and their team, in both cases we’re able to have that conversation upfront about knowing that they are signing up for change.  Knowingly, willingly, signing up for a change in perspective, a change in the way that we work and the methods that we use. Willingly stepping into “…actually, I’ve got some barriers and I’ve got some things that are outside my blinkers and I can’t see them, and I’m seeking the help and the support to get through those, and to maybe shift my box, and to reframe.”  

And so there’s a very direct conversation about contracting one-on-one with that person as to where the role sits in terms of transformation and helping them get from where they are today to another place.  And that’s all very direct.

So I guess that’s the final point that I wanted to leave you with, the final thought around, you know, making sure you’re having the conversations with people as well.

This isn’t about surreptitious, underhanded, off to one side, ninja stuff.  This is about open conversation, it’s about being transparent with your audience, it’s about willingly signing up.

And yeah, I think if you’re doing all of that you’re probably along the right track.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.  Let me know what you think. Super interested if you’ve had sticky situations or things that you’ve learnt from.  Drop me a comment below!

And in case you’re curious… here’s the homework I set him: Escaping NXIVM

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