Good by default: Make ethical decisions without thinking. (Core values must be clear and aligned.)

Musing for:

Good by default: Make ethical decisions without thinking.

“We’ll handle the downtime penalty. Take the production system offline immediately.”

About ten years ago, I remember our CEO declaring that decision within seconds of hearing that a bug in our portal software had the potential to display lab results associated to the wrong patient.

We had an “uptime” guarantee. We paid penalties to our clients when the system was down. Taking the system offline would be costly – both financially, and in terms of our relationship with the client.

But underneath this decision was a deeper principle:

“It’s not a transaction; it’s a patient.”

That principle wasn’t plastered on our walls. It wasn’t attached to our logo or affixed to our email signature. But it was embedded in the character of our leaders.

Helping care providers make good decisions for the benefit of patients was why our company existed. Any mistake that could cause harm to a patient was top priority.

Knowing this core value made this financially costly decision the obvious and only right answer.

And the CEO could make the right call instantly, with no deliberation.

How clear are your core values to you? How well are they aligned with the person you want to be?

If you’d like help, apply for alignment coaching at

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