There is a story I tell to new consultants; on my first consulting contract, 20+ years ago I had a customer request an automation of one of their data dictionary tasks. Over the course of 3 months I iterated on their requirements and delivered the final product. While the customer was very happy, 6 months later I learned they were not using what I had delivered. In hindsight I recognize my mistake; I worked on what was requested to work on before I established the root issues.
Despite the customer’s satisfaction, this reveals an ethical issue: my responsibility as an expert to understand what the underlying process and technical challenges are and provide my advice on what should be done for the best outcome regardless of other stakeholders’ positions.
- The world first: I will not take on projects that negatively impact the world or unfairly disadvantage any group.
- Never overstate what can be done: Provide honest assessments of the problems and the abilities of myself, my coworkers and the tools that I am working with.
- Teach and learn: Every contract is a chance to both teach and to learn.