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Ethics of Taking Value from Value-Taking Individuals

I stumbled upon this thread Lying: Strategy vs Identity linked via 2 degrees of freedom from John's recent thread Values: external vs internal.

Quite interesting. There is another thread on When Should You Keep Value-Taking Individuals Around?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 15, 2020, 5:12 pm

Giving a different title didn't just avoid adding value, but potentially subtracted value, since she'll be reading a book that might not be good and she might be wasting time (if she's really a bad player, then still fair enough. If not, then it might have been too much)

For the more practical aspect of this scenario, I understand the risk of lies because lies potentially pose a threat to your reputation due to the risk of being found out.
However, lying is not necessarily unethical in my view because it prevents value-takers from value-taking.
A good, straightforward example would be lying to street hustlers about where you live. Definitely fair in my opinion.
That being said, I have yet to understand the boundaries of taking value from value-takers.

I was thinking that, in general for a value-adding individual, the more value you take from value-takers, the better society will be.
But this could be a slippery slope argument because value-adding and value-taking are not black and white at times.
On an individual level, an individual could be viewed as value-adding to one side but value-taking from another side.
Of course, there are boundaries. Most people would consider stealing and murder to be value-taking to society.

The Example

In John's case, it seems like a grey area.
This colleague is not really a team player and is quite competitive.
If this colleague reads the wrong book, she will not perform so well in her job and be given less power in the hospital.
As a result, this gives value-adding, collaborative individuals more opportunities to be in power positions to forge a collaborative atmosphere.

At the same time, this person may not be a complete value-taker to society.
She may contribute back to society through her work with patients in the hospital.
She may just have an overly competitive lens in the workplace and missed out on the potential self-gains & value-adding opportunities through a selective collaborative lens.
Her competitiveness may spur her to sharpen her medical skills as an individual contributor role as well in the team environment.

From A Pure Societal Value-Adding Point of View

Let's say an individual is excellent in his role as an individual contributor but a poor team-player.
He is too competitive and undermines others.

We would like to maximise the value-adding aspects and minimise the value-taking aspects of this person in the team environment
We could give the person more power to contribute individually, but take power away from this person to influence the team dynamics.

As a manager or superior, it is simpler.
Keep this person in an individual contributor role.
Let this person focus more on contributing technically.
Find out ways to use this individual's competitiveness to contribute to the knowledge pool and outcomes of the team.
From a practical point of view, this can also act as a guideline to help managers and owners decide how to promote and put people into different positions.

As a colleague, it is a more grey area.
Especially if your manager does not really care about group dynamics.
If you give the individual too much power to contribute individually, this individual may promote faster and become a manager.
Competitive managers are more likely to use Machiavellian value-taking strategies like shine up, praise down.
From an ethical point of view, this is not good for society.

However, if you take away this individual's power to contribute individually, society may lose out on the person's value as an individual contributor.

For ethically grey areas, I would go with my gut feeling on the boundaries and go for maximising self-interest.

Ethics in Competitive Environments

In competitive environments like office politics, it is more ethically acceptable to use win-lose strategies.
Because of the fixed pool of resources and power positions.
This is where taking value from value-taking individuals becomes even more acceptable.

My Thoughts on Ethical Boundaries

Usually, most value-takers have certain value-adding aspects to society. (my mind doesn't find this intuitive)
Weigh these value-adding aspects against the value-taking aspects.
Use this to navigate the boundaries

Think in terms of specific behaviour, not the person.
Punish value-taking behaviour.
Reward value-adding behaviour.
Be flexible on attitudes with the person.

As an overall strategy, spend less time and attention on general value-takers.
Prevent value-takers from taking value from you.
When in doubt, don't take value even from value-takers.
Do consider when you potentially have lots to gain, while the value-taker loses a little.

For value-adding individuals, everything is much easier.
You can have honest, open exchanges and interactions.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Great point, Matthew.

Made me think on one more sub-section about values.

Matthew: For ethically grey areas, I would go with my gut feeling on the boundaries and go for maximising self-interest.

Yeah, it's on a case-by-case basis but, if one has good general values and ethics, than I'm of the same opinion.

If you don't feel too bad about doing something, chances are that it's not too bad.

Matthew: In competitive environments like office politics, it is more ethically acceptable to use win-lose strategies.

Yes, true, it's embedded in the fabric of the exchange.
Falling for the team and business before yourself means falling for the manipulation, in my opinion, and can put you at an unfair disadvantage.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?