Navigating Ethical Complexity

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Developing ethical leaders and building ethical cultures have become critical business priorities. As if that weren’t already challenging enough, managing ethics well also requires systems thinking and a broad understanding of ethical responsibilities. Why is ethics such a challenge for organizations? It has many dimensions, and while we are sorting them all out, expectations for how well we handle day-to-day challenges are increasing.  Keeping up is a formidable challenge. 

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 6)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This series has explored 5 important spheres of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making. 

This week I’m summing it up in a checklist that will help you apply all 5 to your daily choices. When you are making a key decision, run it through the checklist to be sure you have considered all 5 important dimensions. 

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 4)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Who we include in our ethical thinking, and how broadly we consider our responsibility to others are important elements of ethical leadership. In Part 1 of this series, I explored the Depth of our thinking, and in Part 2, I broke down issues related to understanding Context. In Part 3, I looked at Complexity. In Part 4, we’ll dig into the importance of Inclusion.

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 3)

Embracing Complexity is Part of Leadership

Complexity has become a way of life. To make ethical decisions, we must embrace it and incorporate it into our thinking process. That means digging in to issues until we understand their multiple dimensions, connections and contradictions. It means being intentional about decision making and avoiding making snap judgments.

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In Part 1 of this series I looked at the importance of Deep Thinking. In Part 2, we’ll be considering the Context. No matter how much effort it takes to understand the context (whether we like it or not) we can’t expect to make an ethical decision without it. 

Understanding the Context

Without seeing the context – a broad and sweeping view of the issues we are discussing or trying to resolve – we are describing or trying to solve a SUBSET of the real issue. To use ethical thinking and decision-making, we must always remind ourselves that the SUBSET is not the whole. 

The Complexity of Ethical Thinking and Decision Making (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When Thinking is Starved For Context and Complexity

Think about how easy it is to start using shallow breathing without being aware that we’re doing it. This can happen when we’re stressed or anxious, and it can impact our well-being. We may be unaware that we are using shallow breathing until someone notices we’re turning pale and tells us to BREATHE.

When we use shallow thinking, that similarly impacts the “well-being” of our decision making, leading us to false conclusions and ethically problematic decisions. It’s almost as if when we use shallow thinking, our decision making is getting less oxygen. We can medically treat people who are having trouble breathing. But what do we do about thinking that is starved for context and complexity?

The Future of Education: Ethical Literacy For Handling Global Complexity

By Linda Fisher Thornton

We are not preparing students for success in the world where they will have to live and work. Some of the ways we currently think about “teaching” need to be scrapped and replaced.

It will be increasingly important that teachers and other learning guides dig into complexity in order to help prepare students who need to handle increasing complexity in their lives and work. A focus on “knowing” must be replaced with a focus on “how to think, problem solve and successfully navigate global complexity using ethical values.”

Ethical Leadership: Complexity, Context and Adaptation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethical leadership requires growth, a willingness to acknowledge complexity and an understanding of the broader context in which we lead. Use these resources to improve your ethical awareness, learn about how the leadership context is evolving and check for learning blind spots.

What Happens When You Ignore Complexity?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ignoring complexity reduces the number of variables considered in a decision. That may seem convenient (see last week’s post) but it also removes the nuanced thinking that is necessary for ethical decision making. With all the information available in a socially connected world, it is easy to fall victim to the quick oversimplified understanding of issues. This “quick glance” way of gathering information doesn’t reveal the breadth and depth of what’s really going on.

Dealing With Complexity? Use Ethical Thinking (Guest Post)

By Linda Fisher Thornton
We all need better ways to deal with difficult situations. Thinking on autopilot won’t guide us through the grey areas. Michael McKinney published a guest post I wrote that digs into how to understand complexity. It is a timely topic, and as I shared in the article, “many leaders I talk with have a feeling that there is a more meaningful way of thinking and leading than what they’ve been seeing. ” 

Take Your Thinking Up a Notch (Strategies For Solving Complex Problems)

Taking Our Thinking Up a Notch

Looking at problems in great detail don’t usually help us solve them unless we apply specific strategies that make the puzzle as a whole become clearer.

Here are strategies that help us move from one level of thinking to another. It may be necessary to apply all of these strategies to solve particularly complex problems:

10 Reasons to Embrace Complexity

Leading Through Complexity and Uncertainty

In The Center For Creative Leadership’s White Paper, The Future of Leadership Development, Nick Petrie describes the new work environment as “typified by an increased level of complexity and interconnectedness.” This new work environment requires new leadership skills, including a willingness to lead when the situation is complex and the outcome uncertain.

Complexity, Creativity and Collaboration

Diversity of Ideas Provides Perspective

When dealing with complexity, we need fresh thinking. We need to listen to all ideas that may help, regardless of where they come from in the organization. That involves giving up the notion that we are “right.”