Ethics Discernment Framework
What leaders are saying...
The CommonSpirit Ethics Discernment Framework is a standard deliberative process and spiritual exercise for leaders, Executive Teams, and Boards to use when making decisions.
- First, ask “Who is God calling us to be?”
- Then, answer “What are we going to do?”
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN DISCERNMENT AND DECISION MAKING (hover over tiles for examples)
Wisdom of a community
One step of a journey
Who do we want to be?
Intellect and intuition
Episodic or one-time event
What are we going to do?
Using the Ethics Discernment Framework intentionally and consistently allows us to:
- Help leaders make decisions that flow from our Mission and Values
- Identify and adequately address logical and logistical pitfalls of organizational decisions to promote Excellence
- Live out Integrity by keeping our Mission and Values at the center of who we are as CommonSpirit Health
- Identify, analyze, and resolve biases and obstacles to successful decisions
- Avoid hasty decisions: fast = mental shortcuts = omissions and oversights
- Create a space to engage in meaningful deliberation grounded in Compassion
Use the Discernment Framework in the way that best fits the situation.
As a Team
- Use the Process as a team, department, or working group
- Identify someone to lead the discernment
- Especially suited for Routine Decisions (see WHEN)
With a Facilitator
- Request a trained facilitator to lead the discernment and serve as an impartial guide
- Facilitators identify unspoken assumptions and ask the difficult questions to prompt self-reflection
- Expected for Key Decisions (see WHEN)
Adapt a Pre-existing Process
- To increase agility, work with the Theology and Ethics Department to integrate elements of the Ethics Discernment Framework into your team or department’s typical decision making process
- Examples include finance, strategy at the national office
Use subsidiarity to to identify the right participants for successful discernment.
- Subsidiarity - an ethical principle that states decisions should be made at the lowest appropriate level, as close to the issue as possible.
- Invite stakeholders based on role and perspective, some to be present and some to provide input and viewpoints, to foster Collaboration
- Inclusion calls us to identify participants who are diverse in background, experience, profession, and level of the organization
- Include enough participants to represent relevant viewpoints but not so many that it restricts agility
- Pay specific attention to how each option will impact those who are vulnerable
Examples of when to use this framework include:
- Difference of opinion - team members or subject matter experts disagree about the best way forward
- Policies - how does our Mission call us to go beyond the industry standard?
- RFPs - identify values relevant to choose between top candidates
- Unease - a decision or proposed solution might cause discomfort or misgivings
- Uncertainty - choosing between multiple options, all of which are good
- Collaborative arrangements - acquisitions, divestitures, growth, joint ventures, mergers, partnerships, etc.
- Communications - internal or external communication strategies or marketing campaigns
- Finance - budgets, capital allocation, or investment strategies
- Human resources - benefits changes, compensation policies, outsourcing, difficult terminations, or RIFs or restructurings over 1,000 employees or 10% of staff
- Operations - addition, expansion, or decrease of key services, closing or opening a facility or service line, one time capital expenditures over $10million
- Population health – creation of shared savings plans, clinically integrated networks, or changing member benefits
- Strategic plans – development and implementation
- Any decision or action of critical significance for the ministry or organization