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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
means legal, ethical choices, April 20, 2008, 2E.
process involves several distinct stages. The
first step is to define the problem. Alternative
solutions to a problem are then generated before one is chosen as the solution to
implement. After a solution is implemented,
it should later be evaluated and altered if necessary.
Not all problems are the same and not all alternatives are acceptable.
involves selecting an alternative to implement from among a host of possible alternatives. Many times, the alternatives that decision-makers
select and implement are those with which they are familiar or those that are readily
available. For example, each day when I get
in my car to return home from work, I choose an alternative that is very familiar and easy
for me to implement. However, on any given
day I could choose a different alternative from among an almost unlimited number of other
effective solutions. I could bum a ride from
one of my friends or acquaintances from work, call a taxi, ride a bus, walk, ride a bike
or skateboard, or choose any combination of those alternatives.
In addition to
those alternatives, there are also a host of illegal alternatives that I could choose
from. I could steal or hijack a vehicle,
sneak onto public transportation, or ride in a taxi and stiff the driver of the fare. However, I never consider those alternatives as
legitimate possibilities because they are not legal.
Selecting and implementing one of those could result in criminal
prosecution, fines, incarceration, and other unpleasant consequences. Illegal alternatives are screened out as
unacceptable before ever being evaluated as possible solutions.
are legal, but are also never considered as possible solutions. For example, I could con a motorist into driving
me home under the guise of a personal or family emergency.
I could play on the sympathy of a coworker by faking an injury for a ride or
to borrow a vehicle. I could also concoct a
hard-luck story to solicit money from friends or strangers for bus or cab fares. These alternatives never come up for consideration
in my mind because they violate my sense of ethics and morality. Violating my ethical principles would make me feel
guilty and ashamed of my actions and could cost me the trust of those who helped meif
they ever learned that I took advantage of them. Only
the alternatives that are legal and ethical become possible solutions to a problem.
As more and more
organizations embrace the notions of empowerment and shared decision-making, it is
becoming increasingly important that workers know how to make decisions. They must understand how to define problems and
develop alternative solutions that are both legal and ethical. To do that, workers need to understand the legal
environments in which their organizations operate and the ethical guidelines that drive
their operations. Organizational leaders must
continually train and educate their workers on these issues and clearly espouse their
expectations for ethical and legal behavior. Failure
to do so can be costly.
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