This is what happened in our MBA seminar "International Business Ethics" where this feedback comes from - it was a great, interactive and stimulating online session with ten students from India, China, Ghana, Egypt, Bangladesh and Germany!
“Our role is to offer spaces and methods to enable ethical discussions to take place in companies.”
In addition to cross-cultural discussions about whistleblowing, fair vaccine distribution, and other practical examples brought by the students, it was this feedback that stuck. It goes to the heart of the matter: We approach ethical reflection the same way we have learned to do as systemic consultants. We assume that people in companies basically know what is good and less good. They don't need ethical instruction for that. Our role is rather to offer spaces and methods to enable these discussions to take place in companies, in teams, boards, with internal and external stakeholders. Our role is to work out together values and attitudes that fit the purpose of the company - and then to implement them, to make them effective in everyday management and business.
“Those who take time for reflection at the beginning of projects will be all the faster and more efficient afterwards.”
Not ethics of position, but ethics of process. We design and use formats and methods that already convey ethical attitudes in their nature and design. Sounding boards at eye level, in which everyone has their say, regardless of hierarchy. Involve external stakeholders - in the workshop, we often mentioned critical NGOs - not just virtually but in real life, invite them, listen to them, learn from and with them. Make differences on the board visible, discuss them openly, and discover them as a resource. Work interdisciplinarily and interculturally, pausing to move forward, incorporate reflections and retros. In line with the proven Wiesloch insight: those who take time for clarification and reflection at the beginning of projects and processes will be all the faster and more efficient afterwards. If you hurry at the beginning, the ambiguities and unanswered questions will catch up with you later.
Conversely, systemic consultants can learn from ethics of position to take a well-founded position, not just to shape processes. To ask under which conditions production takes place, supply chains and CO2 pollution. Where do we counter, mirror, or even confront? - But that is a new chapter.
Many thanks to the lecturer Andreas Grabenstein and to our MBA students for the interactive course!