Ethics Exercises

IMC USA promotes the development of the ability of consultants to recognize, evaluate and act appropriately on ethical dilemmas. The following cases are presented for use to keep ethics top of mind.

1. Stretch your consulting ethical “muscles" and build ethical sensitivity
2. Better know you colleagues and appreciate the diversity of their experience and perspectives
3. Appreciate that others see the word differently than you and acquire a little humility when it comes to ethics

1. Scenario description and Code of Ethics handout for each participant
2. Evaluation and Notes sheet for facilitator (optional)

Process and Timing (10-15 minutes total):
1. 30 seconds for introduction and instruction (below, at “Introduction” and “Instructions")
2. 30 seconds to read and explain scenario (as described in the specific exercise selected)
3. 5-7 minutes to discuss at tables or in groups of 2-3 (be flexible but respect the meal and
4. 15-30 seconds for report out of tables/groups (ask for only new thoughts)
5. 2 minutes for facilitator to summarize and compare/contrast responses
6. 1 minute to review ethics exercise process, recommend improvements

The IMC mission is to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting. While we all consider ourselves ethical and moral consultants, we can detect and respond appropriately to black and white ethical dilemmas. However, we also have to admit that most ethical issues fall into the gray zone. As clever and experienced as we are, we are not always even aware of the full issues surrounding the attitudes, behaviors and impacts of our comments and actions.

This exercise is intended to do two things. First, it gives a chance to stretch our ethical muscles by thinking and debating a simple ethical situation that could arise in the course of a consulting project or relationship. Second, it gives us insight into our colleagues and their different experience set, approach to addressing ethical issues, and style of discussion.

Francis Bacon said, "Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." We are responsible for reading extensively about consulting and business ethics. Doing so makes us feel we understand the issues, but articulating and defending your position to others is something else. Putting your ethical standards to the public test makes us all more competent, honorable and effective consultants. Writing and standing by your thoughts clarifies your thinking and sharpens your responsiveness.

This is not to embarrass anyone but to be able to put out ideas in a collegial environment. It is a way of helping us all see the blind spots we all have. Through discussion of these scenarios, we get to know our colleagues, and ourselves, a bit better.


Discuss among yourselves at each table for five minutes. I will give you a one minute warning. Select a spokesperson to report out, considering the following questions. Be bright, be brief and be done. Spend 15 seconds describing your conclusions. After all tables report out, spend a few minutes on comparing similarities and differences in perspective.

Sample Questions to Discuss (each exercise has its own relevant questions):
1. Is there anything “ethical” to see here or is this just a contractual dispute?
2. Put yourself in both parties’ position. Has either party committed a breach of ethics?
3. What additional information, if any, do you need to make a preliminary judgment about this
4. What sections of the IMC USA Code of Ethics are relevant?
5. What do you recommend be done to resolve this issue?

Follow up:
• Record each table's conclusion and note differences in perspective, description or proposed
• Ask (rhetorically) whether there was consensus at the table or a lot of debate, or whether
the conclusions might change if a few facts were different.
• Thank participants for their contribution to a vigorous discussion and remind them that they
can continue the discussion at their tables if they wish