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Why PLUS Decision Making Model is Essential to Ethical Organizations

Organizations struggle to develop a simple set of guidelines that makes it easier for employees, regardless of position or level, to be confident of their decisions to meet competing standards of organizations for effective and ethical decision making.

The traditional decision making model taught in most business ethics programs is often beyond the reading comprehension of 25% of the employees’ population. Hence, an alternative model is necessary.

Employees are called upon to make decisions in the normal course of their job. Organizations cannot function effectively if employees are not empowered to make decisions consistent with their positions and responsibilities.

Further, the decision maker has to be confident in the soundness of his decisions. Every decision should be tested against the organization’s policies and values, applicable laws and regulations, as well as the individual employee’s definition of what is right, fair, good, and acceptable.

With these realities, an alternative decision-making model is imperative to address current realities.

The Rise of the Ethical Decision Making Model

To become an Ethical Organization, having a decision making model grounded on foundational ethical decision making is paramount.  An Ethical Decision Making Model ensures that the ethical issues inherent in a routine business situation could effectively be surfaced while making it easy for people in the organization to understand and use. To make it more effective, PLUS filters must be embedded within the process.

The ethical component of the decision making takes the form of a set of filters. At key steps in the process, considerations are run through the filters and separate the ethical conations from the remainder of the decision.

The PLUS Filters: What Really Are They?

PLUS Filters are ethics filters that have adapted to mnemonic word PLUS. PLUS is the mnemonic of Policies, Legal, Universal, and Self. The integration of PLUS Filters in the decision making process is best achieved when there are effective communication and formal mechanism in place.

The PLUS Filters are applied in each of the steps in the decision making process.

P = Policies

  • Is it consistent with my organization’s policies, procedures, and guidelines?

L = Legal

  • Is it acceptable under the applicable laws and regulations?

U = Universal

  • Does it conform to the universal principles/values my organization has adopted?

S = Self

  • Does it satisfy my personal definition of right, good, and fair?

The PLUS Filters and Its Application

Integration of PLUS Filters in decision making is best achieved with effective communication and formal mechanism in place.

Let us look at the first step: Defining the Problem.

In defining the problem, we aim to define the difference between the expected and/or desired outcomes and actual outcomes. With the PLUS application, PLUS surfaced the ethical issues and ask the question, “Does the existing situation violate any of the PLUS considerations?”

When the PLUS Filters are applied, this determines if the ethical components of the decision are being surfaced or satisfied.

The use of PLUS Filters in the decision making process can be your barometer in determining if decisions made are within accepted ethical boundaries agreed upon by your company and the environment that the company revolves in.

Interested in gaining more understanding of creating an Ethical Organization through the PLUS Decision Making Model? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Ethical Organization: PLUS Decision Making Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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