Is there too much focus on ethics in business?
Much like "quality" in the '80s, "ethics" and "integrity" have become business buzzwords, materializing in too many CEO internal communications and speeches. Many well-intentioned and well-educated people think this "ethical emphasis" is a healthy development; I don't. I think it's awful.
Today's emphasis on ethics sets up C-level executives—CIOs in particular—to be branded as liars and hypocrites. Why? Because the ethics of effective implementation are seldom compatible with the implementation of effective ethics. So am I advising CIOs that effective IT implementation is inherently unethical? Of course not. What I'm saying—moreover, what I've observed—is that the ethical conflicts IT most frequently confronts have less to do with dishonorable executive behavior than with the genuine clash of competing business principles. Too many people are trying to turn legitimate business disagreements into illegitimate ethical conflicts.
The article targets CIOs, but I think it is justifiable in a broader context as well. Go read the whole thing, and decide for yourself if he is on to something.