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The three types of advice

OK. So I occasionally read suspense novels to break up the relative monotony of constant business books.  A sentence in the one I am currently reading caught my eye.  “There are three types of advice,” the wise White House Senior Counsel to the President told the young White House attorney.

He referred to the three as legal advice, moral advice and political advice.  Remember that this was a book about politics. What struck me is how he defined the three:  ‘What you can do, what you should do, and what you want to do.’

Stick with me on the can-should-want thought for a minute.  Isn’t that a template for our managerial decision making?  Is it legal? Ethical? Advantageous for me or my cause?  What if all of us used this as our filter when making business decisions?  It seems to me that lots of problems would disappear and our gray area decisions made clearer.  And what if politicians filtered their decisions through the same process?  It would be refreshing if our each of our representatives put the moral and ethical filter above the decision to seek advantage.

It’s a great thought for the start of a new year.  Discipline ourselves to think whether a tough decision passes the legal, moral and finally, then the political tests.  It would work equally well in our lives and within the walls of the White House or Congress.

  • Neven Karlovac

    Insightful as always. If I may, I would order the decision sequence as advantageous legal, ethical- if the answer to the preceding question is negative no need to spend any more effort on the topic.

  • Bravo Dave – you saved the best for last. Merry Christmas and best of life in 2013.

    Your blog this week reminds me partly of the Serenity Prayer and partly of King Lear, the key being balance.
    Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

    The last part of the equation comes from experience. Hormonal imbalances aside, there is not a 20 something on the planet that has the experience or the wisdom to be given command of a nuclear submarine, and if the Cold War has evolved into data wars, what the hell is going on in Silicone Valley VC world???

    Masquerading behind a sham Patriot Act exemption for the protection of our Constitutional rights, this adminstration has desecrated the Nobel Peace Prize, deficated on the Constitution and effectively turned the US into a police state. It would be nice if politicians used your fictional advice matrix, but they are slaves(to be polite) to PAC’s and Lobbyists,not leaders with convictions and courage. Puppets on strings. That is all. Got my blood boiling. Thanks for the post Dave.

  • Great point Dave. It’s easier said then done since human nature seems to gravitate towards what’s most advantageous to self versus society. If you are a manager with morals, its difficult to find and recruit other managers who put morals before self gain.

  • Cricket Lee

    Really good one, Dave! When can you run for office?

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