by Joerg Schulze-Clewing
For me there are no two ways about ethics. The bible is very clear about it:
"These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD." (Zechariah 8:16-17)
The IEEE Code of Ethics is binding IEEE members to high ethical standards. It should be adhered to by all engineers. After all, who would want to live with the burden of having created something that creates an unnecessary problem, or worse, something that isn't sound and safe?
We must constantly keep asking ourselves questions like this: If a loved one would be on the operating table with their heart muscle tissue connected to the new interface I just designed, would I feel comfortable with that? The answer must at all times be a clear "Yes!".
Besides the code of ethics our conduct as consultants needs to be impeccable also in other areas. The client's management must feel good about the whole relationship. For the consultant this means no finger pointing, no "told you so" remarks and a professional behavior when presenting findings. Often investors or other outside decision makers who were not the ones who retained the consultant will be present at such meetings. Very often I have been confronted with questions like "So, you really think this project is going to fly?". It is hard but these questions must be anticipated beforehand and discussed with management.
Employees of the client are another concern. A consultant should ideally be a respected part of the team and should refrain from taking credit in front of a group, let alone boast. "Every time we have this consultant here things are accomplished". We all heard that before. Yet it is crucial to point out that it is the team that brought success, not a consultant alone. Often employees fear that it looks bad if a consultant is assigned to help the do a certain job. Still, in almost two decades it hasn't happened once that such fear lingered for very long.