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Blue Ocean Strategy, Stay on Path, Unintended Consequences, Linked In Groups, Ethics, Andrew Stein, SteinVoxToday I want you to consider ethics, LinkedIn group ethics specifically, and the unintended consequences that group-defined rules may produce.

Recently, I shared a relevant article on a particular innovation topic, Blue Ocean Strategy, in one of the LinkedIn groups I participate.

The article delivered to the discussion a specific example of Blue Ocean Strategy. It was well written and provided valuable relevant information to the other members like me participating in the discussion.

My share did not stay on the path carefully laid out in the forum rules. The forum rules don’t allow links to external articles. My share included a link to a third party’s quantitative research-filled fact-based well-curated article.

Issue of Ethics

It would be difficult to see any effective way to type in another researcher’s data as “original” and that would be plagiarism. The share was deleted by the forum moderator.

The article was written about the Nest thermostat control unit for homes. I’ll say no more. The innovative leadership in that product is profound.

I am choosing to share the issue here – and ask you to ponder. In this way, a greater and profound impact may germinate.

I Did Break the Rules

Yes, I had broken the LinkedIn Groups specific rules by sharing the link to an external article. It was interpreted by the forum moderator as being self-serving, I assume. But to be clear, I did not write it, and I did not know the author. I came across the article in my normal RSS reading that day, and it connected with the discussion in the LinkedIn group.

Now, I’m not trying to change the rules for the group, their rules are good, and valuable based on the original intent, I guess. I can’t really say for sure, as I am only a member, and was not there when the group was set up.

However, attitudes and rules that control what can be shared and how in social forums seem to be artifacts of the industrial age and a prior world war. A wise person once told me that “attitude is a little thing that has big consequences.”

LinkedIn Group Ethics Shocker

Two days later, the very forum moderator who had sent me the terse note saying I had broken the rules, shared a request to the group. The individual indicated skepticism for Blue Ocean Strategy, and wondered if any member would share real quantitative successes (their experience, names and data) proving Blue Ocean Strategy. Essentially, the moderator’s request was to ask group members to reveal their client names, and share data that proved Blue Ocean Strategy delivered results.

Blue Ocean Strategy is focused on value – no matter what industry or non-profit focus. It’s worth considering Blue Ocean Strategy of the type that W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne wrote in their book by the same title no matter your role, industry, or domain’s business/profit model.

To be a real in the mind of the moderator, the source must be named and the data exposed. I named the “Nest” thermostat above, and the article had data – published data.

Ethics Problem?

Anyone see an ethical problem with that? Like breaking your “Non-compete Agreement,” “Employee Confidentiality Agreement,” or a “Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA)” to share that kind of specific data?

That is what links to curated articles and research are for. The rigid adherence to not allowing a link to an external article to enlighten and expand the knowledge of the collective group would have been the answer to this question, and would not break any ethics rules. And, in fact, my post on Nest, shares that curated data.

Heretic Response

No, I didn’t publish this response to the group. That would have produced unintended consequences. In the end, I gain value from collaborating ethically with its other members too much to risk raising this.

@moderator. The forum rules prevent members from sharing links to curated articles and published case studies that give quantitative data and success metrics for published examples of Blue Ocean Strategy. Please know that your request may be ok in the non-profit public records world, but in the commercial world it would break a code of ethics, privacy, and confidential information agreements. Employees, business leaders, and consultants in this forum cannot publish quantitative success data that is protected by non-disclosure agreements. Revealing confidential quantitative data about a client company’s competitive advantage is, or should be, against the forum rules.

Instead of publishing to the group, I’ve chose (my choice) to use this opportunity for greater value here in the SteinVox blog.

To Ponder

How many times are rules made and enforced that introduce unintended ethics dilemmas? This is one of them. In the social era, restricting how, and what, people can share and when, seems to be in conflict with the ultimate objective.

The tools and technology that enables people to make their own choice about what to read and not read, exist. We must use these tools. Moderators should promote the use of them more as a coaching opportunity and mentoring responsibility. The crowd will determine what is valuable, and what is not valuable, and position it appropriately in the social information value hierarchy. Open minds and attitudes are critical to expanding collective understanding.

Most importantly, if rules request social participants to act unethically or participate in a way that forces them to bend their values, perhaps those rules need to be reconsidered.

Please leave a comment.

Image credit: Please Stay On Path, SDN

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