During the course of the second academic semester 2017/18, the learning community Directica, organized by researchers from the Centre for Applied Ethics, conducted and facilitated three experimental scenario planning workshops with managers from diverse industries of the Basque Country. The topic chosen to develop the prospective scenarios was digitalization in the Basque Country. These workshops focused on questioning: In 2038, what will it mean to be an organization with a solid ethical culture within the context of a digitalized Basque Country and what ethical implications will the digital evolution have in their companies? Considering the diversity of companies participating in DIRÉCTICA, the objective was to seek a common ground, promote a learning process and explore scenario planning as a means by which to include reflections on past and current practical problems in order to visualize future possible ‘fundamental ethical notions, categories’ and challenges. This allowed the managers to draw upon their companies and alliances for ideas that have been put forward for Basque economic and digital growth and for what it means to be an ethical organization in a digital future. The group built two scenarios deductively in a 2×2 matrix with a focus on two critical uncertainties: The Level of State Intervention and The Changing Nature of Labor Demand. Out of these dynamics two future scenarios were co-created by the participants and organized into narratives.
Here are short summaries of the scenarios:
The first scenario “Make Euskadi Great Again” tells a story in which the Basque Country has a high supply of digital infrastructure and companies influence economic and social conditions significantly. The Government values short term results, is non-interventionist, establishes regulatory frameworks that favor the interests of the companies and cuts back regulation.
The Liquid Society tells a story of a digitalized Basque Country which is highly regulated and the Government intervenes regularly in economic activity. International companies see this as an excessively regulatory framework. Some companies have been migrating to other regions that are less regulated and where they will find public institutions that do not intervene in how technology can be developed and used.
During the last workshop, inspired by these stories, the participants first discussed the underlying causes of each scenario, such as the circumstances, mental models and values. Finally, the participants explored what ethical implications and ethical categories could be identified and what impacts could the scenarios have on the lives of citizens, businesses and the future of the Basque Country.
The scenarios are not the end-product. It is intended that they be reused as a catalyst for discussion among other stakeholders and organizations that can assist in reframing existing possibilities, in order to maintain or arrive at a more ethical digitalized future within the Basque Business community. The exercise also elicited further ethical questioning. In each of the scenarios we asked: What is the ethical responsibility of the companies in the Basque Country? And, what is the responsibility of leadership within the companies?