Transdisciplinary Thinking Leads to Better Decisions

By Linda Fisher Thornton

There’s a problem that people don’t talk about often enough. In the quest to understand things, we have divided up content and areas of science and our world in general into categories that we label (like biology, art, and psychology for example) and think of as separate. People study inside these realms intensely until they become experts in them. The problem is that these divisions and their labels are false constructs that we have imposed on a world that is much more complex than the categories convey. When we think in these simple terms (and teach using them) we are oversimplifying our decision making, and that can lead us to make choices that don’t lead to the outcomes we want.

No Routine Decisions

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As a leadup to a keynote I’m doing for the Michigan Association of School Boards, I was invited to submit a feature article for their fall issue of the MASB LeaderBoard. In the article, “Meeting the Challenge of Ethical Decision Making,” I write about how since the start of the pandemic, decision making has become more complex and requires much more intentional decision making.

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?

How Do You Make Better Decisions?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

How do you make decisions? Do you consider a series of important questions? Do you find out the needs of the people involved? Do you consult a diverse group of advisors? Or do you just wing it? Some of the ways we may be tempted to think through our challenges (how to stay within budget or how to be most profitable, for example) leave ethical values out of the equation.

Ethical thinking helps us make good leadership decisions. When we use intentional ethical thinking, we make decisions based on ethical values. Using ethical thinking doesn’t just help us do the right thing. It also helps us resolve our most difficult leadership problems by broadening our awareness.

Every Decision Changes The Ethical Culture Equation

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Ethics has a compounding effect on culture, and our leadership choices determine whether that effect will be positive or negative. Being diligent about ethics in every decision brings the culture ethics dividends. Being careless about ethics brings ethics penalties.

The tricky part about managing ethical culture is that every leader decision and action throughout the organization is changing the equation. The “ethical culture equation” is changing in real time, every day.

Making Decisions Like Global Citizens

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Character is important, but leading ethically in the fullest sense requires much more than just demonstrate good character. In this 2 minute video, I describe 7 different perspectives that you may be hearing around the table as you discuss ethical dilemmas in your organization. Instead of being competing perspectives, each one is an important element of the full picture of what it means to lead ethically in a global society.

When is a Decision an Ethical One?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we think about our decisions, which ones do we recognize as “ethical?” Complying with laws and ethics codes clearly has ethical implications. But what about these decisions?

700th Leading in Context Blog Post: What If?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In my 600th post, I wrote about my top 10 Leadership Lessons Learned. In this 700th post, I want to take a moment to dream and imagine what life could be like if all leaders took the time to learn ethical thinking, decision making and leadership, and applied them every day.

Top Post Series of 2022: Leading in Context Blog

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The Top Post Series for last year on the Leading in Context Blog reflected the urgent need to move ethical thinking and decision making forward in organizations. It featured specific areas of focus and strategies for improving organizational ethics. Use these posts to identify areas you want to improve in 2023.