The Next Right Thing

by | May 28, 2020 | ICT4D |

In the pre-lock down era, we rented a camper van and drove around Wales. We felt a bit like storm chasers as Storm Dennis chased us and it seemed like everywhere flooded horrifically the day after we left. We were wrapped up cozy in our camper listening to the Frozen 2 audiobook. My 4 year old singing along to ‘The Next Right Thing’ song at the top of her lungs. She has yet to learn volume control which was made worse by the camper.

The next right thing. It is not always clear, is it?

Sometimes we know what the next right thing is to do, but we still don’t do it. Perhaps it’s fear. Perhaps it’s lack of courage. Or perhaps it something to do with power – who has it, the implications to us of changing it, and so on.

This is one of the reasons many organisations have whistleblower hotlines. They allow people who are fearful to call out bad practice anonymously without retaliation. While there are many great things about whistleblower hotlines and I firmly believe they are needed, there also is an aspect of them that feel a bit like tattletaling.

Often the next right thing is not clear and we need help in seeing where to step next. It could be forward, sideways, backwards, or even waiting.

One of the reasons ethics committees or review boards add value is they help us think impact through before we take action. When we implement them well, they are not a policing function, but rather an enabling function. Or perhaps better put it is both policing and enabling, but ideally much more enabling. Ethics committees should be places we want to bring our thinking, our work, our ideas. We want to because in bringing it to them, our thinking is made better, richer, clearer.

When Anna sings ‘The Next Right Thing‘, she is alone. When we establish ethics committees well, we don’t have to be alone. Together we figure out the next right thing. The choice is up to us.

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