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Three things: ethics, knowledge & fun

Date: Feb 18 2019
Three things: ethics, knowledge & fun

Last week, I started a new approach to blogging. Designed to make my blogging ambitions more achievable against the usual back drop of work and family life. Here’s my second post in this new format. Three things, lessons from the week gone by and to take into the week ahead.


‘We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions’ was a quote I heard last week, listening to a piece on the radio about developing AI in driverless cars and specifically, understanding how we judge other drivers. We are of course all brilliant drivers, while anyone who overtakes us a little fast is behaving recklessly. We justify our own actions, on our circumstances, our need, and our preceding good behaviour so ‘just this once’ is ok because we’ve banked all those brownie points being good, while anyone else is being a ‘insert expletive here’. I’m really interested in ethics in our work as communicators, and wrote a paper for CIPR Inside on the topic, Ethics in Action for Internal Communicators.

On Tuesday 12 February, I co-hosted ‘Ethics for Internal Communicators’ an event for CIPR Inside with Katherine Bradshaw from the Institute of Business Ethics.

We had a brilliant couple of hours with lots of discussion about ethical challenges with the internal communicators who joined us for the evening. We talked about the different situations we may face in our work, from being ‘encouraged’ to spin internal news to be more positive, to managing the delicate balance between organisational demands and individual employee needs and interests.

Some top tips included:

  • Trust your instinct
  • Talk about what bothers you
  • Use your communication skills to speak up
  • Have the confidence to challenge
  • Use the grandmother test – how would you feel about your decision if your grandmother found out?

Some of the common red flags that may indicate we are facing an ethical dilemma are when we or someone we’re working with may be saying of thinking something like these statements:

  • “Well, maybe just this once.”
  • “No one will ever know.”
  • “It doesn’t matter how it gets done as long as it gets done.”
  • “Everyone does it.”
  • “Don’t worry, it’s part of the culture.”
  • “No one will notice.”
  • “What’s in it for me?”
  • “We didn’t have this conversation.”
  • “I don’t want to know.”

A good example of an organisation managing speaking up well:

Some further reading around ethics:

CIPR has lots of information and a helpline to support members. You can find the ethics information here.

And should you need advice, the CIPR’s helpline:

Martin Horrox, Regulatory Consultant
0207 631 6969

The opening quote on this section is originally from Stephen Covey, Author, speaker, businessman who wrote the book, The 7 habits of highly effective people, 30 years ago now. It has sold 20 million plus copies. I’ve not read it yet. Perhaps I will.

Always let your conscience be your guide.


I was in Crystal Palace recently and I was told about the Dinosaur sculptures there. I didn’t have time to go and see them, but I was struck by what I was told about them and had a look online. They were commissioned in 1852, and based upon the knowledge we had then from the scant information from fossils and other findings that were pieced together to create the beasts that still grace the park today.

But, of course in the intervening 160 or so years, knowledge has moved on, we’ve learned so much more. We have new scientific techniques and have more pieces of the paleontological puzzle to help create a more complete picture.

So, with our modern view, these dinosaurs at Crystal Palace look slightly out of shape, a bit like thick set lizards, their spines and horns misplaced or their legs too short. They are not a bit like Jurassic park dinosaurs.

However, those indicators of our knowledge from the past are important, they show us how far we’ve come, and not least how far we have yet to go. Just imagine what we may know in ten, twenty, or thirty years’ time.

I often reflect on where I’ve been to get to where I am, and understand where I’m heading. I look back at my excited yet uncertain self, heading off to uni, then graduating four years later, full of knowledge and over confident, to be brought quickly back down to earth again in the reality of corporate and working life. Then working my way up again, learning more about my practice and workplaces. While I thought when I was young, I’d reach a point where I knew enough, now I’m at a point where I know I can never know enough. That uncertainty of our knowledge is to be embraced, it’s what keeps us learning and growing. I’ve grown to love learning, and accept that it’s all part of the journey.

Keep learning, be prepared to adapt with new knowledge and facts or you could end up a lumpy dinosaur with misplaced spines and horns 😉


I recently supported a workshop for a group of scientists. We were talking about values, behaviours and purpose in work. For them one thing was missing in the various pieces of pre-work. They love their work and said that categorically, that even scientists have fun in their work.

It got me thinking about laughter and fun at work generally. Some of my best times while working in house were when the team was open, we were connected in our purpose and on the ‘same wavelength’, able to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes and move on together. It can’t be forced or indeed created, but the culture where people are empowered to have fun while they work can be nurtured. We all need some fun in our work.

I found a couple of interesting articles:

Life is incredibly busy, challenging, uncertain and sometimes stressful. As communicators it’s important to remember to bring some fun into our work where appropriate. Without it, we can lose our way and become miserable, and that really is no fun.

My week ahead is half term which means a bit of time out with my kids alongside working wonky hours. I shall be looking out for fun in the balance and exploring with my kids.

Whatever the week ahead throws at you, make time for some fun.