Do The Right Thing

Part three of my series of reflections prompted by the Udemy Seth Godin Leadership Workshop. 


What does it mean to do the right thing?

  • What does it mean to do the right thing even when there’s a popular shortcut?
  • Consider the journey that you and your team are on. Do the ends justify the means? Which means? What’s right and where do you draw the line? Does everyone in your culture draw the line in the same place?
  • What sort of control are you willing to give up to get closer to your goal?


First of all, I am over the moon that this is where Seth went next with this. At the root of the hard change I am trying to accomplish is a shift toward doing the right thing over the easiest path. A lot of times this is not a conversation of good verses evil but diligence over expedience. And the funny thing is that my vision involves taking a step back to attend to diligence so that over time true expedience can become possible. And now to the questions. 

I often see doing the right thing as the only option. But this of course, is my stringent view of “right” which doesn’t always fall into “feasible.” I need to shift from qualifying the “right thing” as the most in-depth and exhaustive exploration to what best meets the objectives and targets. (+Acumen has a fun course on Lean Data that addresses this tension.) I’m learning that in order to balance integrity and feasibility you need agreed-upon targets with enough specificity so that once you are three steps down the path you can use them as a qualifying tool. What seems so clear at the onset becomes a vast ocean open for interpretation when you are evaluating it against progress. 

Back to the task at hand. In my context, what is a popular shortcut? Often times is it a brief that outlines an outcome without room to identify the underlying problem, nonetheless scope to investigate the problem and propose a solution. This is a shortcut I am no longer willing to take.

This is the key reason I am investigating avenues such as leadership courses to theorize how I can contribute to an industry shift. A transformation beyond the talk and buzzwords that puts real money where your mouth is—and gets clients to pay for research, strategy and innovative problem solving. It is no longer enough to ‘build a site’ or ‘make an app.’ If these projects aren’t provoking deep questions on the nature of the organization and how they are bringing value and empowerment to their users then they aren’t a good fit for me. 

I’ve known this for a while. As I pass up opportunities I often come back to the same debate. Is anyone out there actually doing this type of work? If not, is that because it is valuable but too hard or because they can’t find the value in embarking on the difficult journey. After meeting with people all over the Vancouver, my reoccurring conclusion is that it is desired, necessary and difficult. Who will lead? Will it be me? Possibly, but I will need a team. 

The larger shift in industry is grand in scale. How can I create smaller paradigm shifts from where I stand? In my current journey and project load, ends and means are worthy of investigation. As I move to lead an organizational shift toward developing user-focused marketing content, my objective is transitioning the team from an ends-driven system that everyone hates. I hear objections to the current system and the turmoil of being asked to create work that does’t demonstrate value the user. The good news is that there is a sense of craving for a new way. Can we band together and lead the shift so that internal systems of what we execute can satisfy our conscience in ‘what is right’ by better meeting user needs? Both our culture and our customers need this to happen. 

The control I am willing to give in is ownership of the project. I set the spark. Now I am interested to see how we can move forward as co-creators of this venture.  

Karen Whistler