Structured Problem Solving

There are many variations on the 'problem solving steps' approach but in summary they are:

1. Recognize that there is a problem

  • Be alert for ethical issues that might lie behind everyday technical activities and decisions
  • Keep the Code of Ethics in mind when making decisions that could affect others
  • In more general terms, strive not to:
    • harm someone
    • exploit others; or
    • be unfair.
    • Write down the details of a problem as soon as it is identified so that your observations and important problem details are recorded. They will have more credibility for other parties than recollections and can be readily reviewed at any time.

    2. Record feasible alternatives

    • Write down the alternatives you see for solving the problem
    • Record who might be affected by each alternative.

    3. Examine each alternative for its potential positive and negative results

    • Consider the likely consequences of each alternative for all parties involved
    • Review each alternative against the requirements of the Code of Ethics and other ethical resources (see below)
    • Write down the potential positive and negative outcomes
    • Rank the alternatives in terms of the most likely positive outcome.

    4. Select and plan for implementation of the preferred alternative

    • Select the preferred alternative
    • Write down a step-by-step plan for how you will implement the alternative.

    5. Act on the selected alternative

    • Always seek input and advice from your supervisors and peers before taking action.
    • Follow the steps in your plan.

    6. Follow-up to make sure that the alternative was the most appropriate for the situation and that there are no outstanding issues

    • You owe it to yourself, your profession, the organization to which you belong and the other parties involved to follow-up and ensure that the ethical problem has been resolved
    • Learn from the experience.

    Other ethical resources, in addition to the Code of Ethics and supporting documents, can include:

    • Your own moral beliefs and theories
    • The moral theories described earlier
    • The experience of your supervisors and peers.

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