Oh man, I’m gonna get in SO much trouble for this one.
So I get an email this morning telling that I’ve got to watch web training video about Microsoft’s standards of business conduct.
It’s a standard corporate training video – discussion about what our standards are, and then you come to the meat of the video: Six scenarios, where you’ve got to make a judgment call about the issues associated with various things that could happen in the course of business.
Good scenarios actually – covering things like insider trading, sexual harassment, use of software purchased for work at home, etc.
But at the end of each scenario, there’s a question: “Can <the person in the scenario> do this?”
Duh! The answer’s No! The answer is ALWAYS “No” (ok, the sexual harassment question was “Does this scenario violate Microsoft’s sexual harassment policy?” The answer to that one was “Yes”).
Why is it that people who write these training videos always chose scenarios where the answer is clearly “No”? Why not show a somewhat ambiguous scenario where the answer is “Yes”?
This isn’t restricted to Microsoft by the way. We had a discussion about this last year at my kid brother’s high school graduation celebration – my father (a lawyer at Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna), my brother (a lawyer at Weil, Gotshaw & Manges), and my uncle (a lawyer at Hale and Dorr) had a discussion about the ethics training that the bar association requires that all lawyers receive (we were discussing a college course in ethics my brother had taken)
My father’s only comment was “These things are easy – the answer’s always that it’s unethical”.
So my question is: Why don’t they give us ambiguous ethical dilemmas in this training? Why do the people authoring this training always give us scenarios that have a clear and obvious answer?