Diverse Perspectives in Decision Making

Diverse Perspectives in Decision Making

One thing that influences decision making in an organization is the makeup of the organization and the group that is making the decision. Is there diversity in thought and perspectives? How about diversity in ethnicity? Or is there a group that is completely monotone where group think prevails? Take a look at this TedTalk on willful blindness (

View video transcript

). How would this play in a public organization? Can you think of examples? If people offer divergent views are they appreciated in your organization? Does someone have to invoke whistleblower protections to make their voice heard?

Now let’s apply these concepts to Flint, Michigan. You have all seen this in the headlines.  Flint has a major health crisis  because of lead leaking into its water. Take a look at the progression of how this crisis came to light. Keep in mind the video you just watched on willful blindness as you note ALL the public/governmental agencies involved along the way.

Was there willful blindness in Flint? Or are public official more directly culpable?

At this writing, four officials had been charged and a dozen others in relation to a Legionnaires outbreak during the crisis. These included emergency managers and finance officials. Note they are just charged at this point. How do you think the court will rule? Were they criminally liable? Legally not liable but ethically wrong?


Decision making can be challenging, and it is made more challenging when ethical issues become part of the process. Ethical decision making can be complicated, and scholars do not agree on the best way to approach it. For public administrators, the best approach is to always remember that their objective is to serve the public interest. As such, they should practice ethics and make decisions that support the principles and values promoted by their government organizations and agencies.


Citymanagers. (2014). Ethics in Public Service. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BJTgDiX0k8

Cooper, T.L. (2006). The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role, Fifth Edition, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Dan Dootson EdCC Visual Media Services. (2015). “Ethics in Public Service,” David B. Killeen Part 1 of 4. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyxxAuZNbTQ

Dan Dootson EdCC Visual Media Services. (2015). “Ethics in Public Service,” David B. Killeen Part 2 of 4. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ricimw7so00

Dan Dootson EdCC Visual Media Services. (2015). “Ethics in Public Service,” David B. Killeen Part 3 of 4. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7M99Be0SOQ

Dan Dootson EdCC Visual Media Services. (2015). “Ethics in Public Service,” David B. Killeen Part 4 of 4. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GeligQaPPg

Dudley, Drew. (2010). Drew Dudley at TEDxToronto 2010, Everyday leadership. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership

Ethical Decision Making. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/

Heffernan, Margaret. (2013). Margaret Heffernan at TEDxDanubia, The dangers of willful blindness. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness

Kennedy, M. (2016, April 20). Lead-Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis. The Two-Way Breaking News From NPR. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/465545378/lead-laced-water-in-flint-a-step-by-step-look-at-the-makings-of-a-crisis.

Schermerhorn, J.R. Jr., Hunt, J.G., & Osborn, R.N. (2005). Organizational Behavior, Ninth Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Woodhouse, K. (2016). Strengthening your moral compass. PM. Public Management, 98(7), 22-25.

Sandel, Michael. (2005). Michael Sandel at Justice with Michael Sandel, What’s the right thing to do? Retrieved from https://embed.ted.com/talks/michael_sandel_what_s_the_right_thing_to_do


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