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Use the Three Pillars for Personal and Leadership Decisions

Use the Three Pillars for Personal and Leadership Decisions
In this module, I’m going to introduce you to the course and also provide an overview of the course. This course focuses on these three pillars which are important in most forms of decision-making. The law pillar, the strategy pillar, and the ethics pillar. And we’re going to start by looking at how these three pillars relate to a personal decision and a leadership decision. But then we’re going to focus mainly on how they relate to business decision- making. These three pillars, by the way, are built on very solid theory based on the work of these philosophers, sociologists, and naturalistic philosophers.
A professor named Tim Fort, a friend of mine from Indiana University, brought together the work of these various philosophers and scholars into what he calls the Tripartite Dialectic. Tripartite meaning three parts, dialectic meaning a dialogue. So his work focused very theoretically on how these three parts dialog together, and that’s all I’m going to say about theory. I know you’d like to hear a lot more about it, but our focus is on very practical aspects of the tripartite dialectic. And here’s a game plan for this module. First of all, I want to to talk about a couple of examples that go beyond business, just to illustrate how the three pillars apply in leadership decision- making and in personal decision-making.
Then we’re going to focus, more specifically, on how the pillars relate to business decision-making. We’re going to look at a big challenge in using the three pillars in business decision-making, specifically, the gap between the strategy and law pillars. Then we’re going to talk about how you can close the gap to achieve competitive advantage, then covering the organization of the course. And we’ll look at a very useful and practical business and legal decision- making tool. And, finally, I’ve got some comments on developing a global mindset which is important today in our global economy. So, let’s start with two decisions, one personal and one leadership. The personal decision is this.
A friend is driving to your house and you decide to send a text to your friend, which reads pick up pizza at Pizza Express. You’ve suddenly developed a craving for pizza. You ordered a pizza at a local pizza joint called Pizza Express, you want your friend to pick up the pizza. The leadership decision is President Obama’s decision to authorize the operation that resulted in bin Laden’s death. My question to you is how do these decisions relate to the three pillars? So, please hit pause and jot down your thoughts on this. How do these two decisions, one leadership, one personal, relate to the three pillars?
Let’s start with the pizza decision. So, the strategy pillar. Strategy involves setting a goal and developing plans to implement your goal. So your goal, obviously, is to buy a pizza. And your implementation plan is to ask your friend to pick it up. The law pillar raises a legal question. What happens if you friend causes an accident while reading your text? Are you liable? And then there’s the ethics pillar. Even if you’re not legally liable, is your strategic plan ethical? So those are the applications of the three pillars in this case. And here’s a little background on the law pillar. We’ve got an actual case decided recently. A woman texts her friend who is driving.
He reads the text, he responds to the text, then crosses the center line of the road, hits a motorcyclist and his wife. They are seriously injured and their left legs are both amputated. So the husband and wife sue the driver, and he settles the case. But they also sue the woman who sent the text. So question, what do you think the legal answer to that is? Hit pause and write down your answer. If you send a text to somebody, to a driver, who injures somebody, are you liable? Well, this is the New Jersey court decided.
The court said, yes, a sender is liable if she quote knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted. Now, in this particular case, she was lucky, she got off the hook. The court said she did not know or have reason to know that the recipient would be distracted. But this is the rule of law in New Jersey. So, given this relatively new law, what would be your decision here, thinking within the three pillars? Would you send the text or not, and why? So, again, hit pause and write down your answer.
Here’s one analysis. Of course, you still have the same strategy, acquire the pizza. But when you think about the law pillar, now that you know the law, you have to decide whether legal liability is a concern. For instance, you have to answer these questions. Do you live in New Jersey? Will your state or country adopt a rule similar to New Jersey down the road? This is a new emerging area of the law. Would a judge decide that you knew or should have known that your friend would read the text while driving? And based on your analysis, would you change your strategic plans by cancelling the order or asking the restaurant to deliver the pizza. So you’ve got those legal questions.
And then the ethics pillar. What if you’re certain that your plan is legal, what are the ethics of texting your friend and placing both your friend, the driver and others at risk by sending the text? So that’s an example of how the three pillars come into play with a personal decision. Let’s now look at President Obama’s leadership decision, his strategy. He decides to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda. The law pillar. As a lawyer he realizes there are a number of legal questions, but even if he weren’t a lawyer, wasn’t a lawyer, he would probably raise these questions anyway.
And so he asks a top secret team of four lawyers several legal questions. For instance, does he have the right to authorize a lethal mission to kill bin Laden? Does he have the legal right to delay telling congress until after the mission? Does he have the legal right to bury bin Laden at sea? And then the ethics pillar. Regardless of whether his decision is legal or not, should he authorize the killing of bin Laden? So, these two examples illustrate the application of three pillars thinking to a personal decision and a leadership decision. In our next segment, we’re going to turn to applying the three pillars analysis to business decision-making.
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Making Successful Decisions through the Strategy, Law & Ethics Model

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