Why is integrity the goal of the canvas?

Integrity is a “progress, not perfection” goal state for product ethics decisions. It is not requiring your product to be morally perfect. It is requiring that the product you bring into the world act in accordance with the most relevant duties and values.

Doesn’t the Product Ethics Canvas depend on the ethics of the team using the canvas?

Absolutely. The outcome of using the canvas depends on the ethics of the team using it. If they decide there are no relevant moral values, or explicitly ignore negative consequences, or decide not to think about indirect stakeholders – then the canvas will not be helpful.

Teams need to approach this topic with an open mind and be ready to engage with topics they would prefer sweep under the carpet. An external facilitator with knowledge in ethics and product management be helpful to ensure a meaningful conversation.

Why “product ethics” and not technology ethics, or business ethics, or design ethics?

Product teams have to make on-the-ground ethical decisions impacting the users and stakeholders of their products. These decisions span technology, business and design. Often ethical topics in these domains are highly specialist and not helpful to the work of product managers, who need to think more holistically. The Product Ethics Canvas can help identify where further work is needed in terms of technology, business or design elements.

Can I use the Product Ethics Canvas in my workshop?

Certainly. The Product Ethics Canvas has been published with a Creative Commons share-alike and attribution license. That means you can use it as a long as you credit the maker, and share any content building on the canvas with alike Creative Commons terms. You are free to use it at a workshop in your company or in your course you are teaching, even if you are charging money for it. 

When should we use the Product Ethics Canvas?

The Product Ethics Canvas can be used with early-stage concepts when validating its Desirability, Feasibility, Viability and ethical Integrity.

It can also be used with existing products, helping to frame product ethics specifications for developments. Recording these decisions based on the canvas can be useful for future ethical audits.

It can also be used when new ethical situations and dilemmas emerge, helping tease out your product team’s or company’s response.

Is any one of the categories on the canvas more important than the others?

Not really. The Product Ethics Canvas’s eight categories are based on classical moral philosophy from diverse schools of thought. Duties comes from Deontological ethics, Values from Virtue Ethics, Consequences from Consequentialist ethics. Affordances, Stakeholders and Situations come from Applied Ethics spanning across these schools. Integrity is a way of bringing it all together, and Product Ethics Spec the departure into product strategy. Most moral philosophers and specialized ethicists have a preferred ethical stance or school, while the canvas encourages you to be theory-agnostic and find the right focus area for your team.

What is the thinking behind the structure of the Product Ethics Canvas?

There is a conceptual structure behind the canvas and a defined way to progress through it. The lefthand column (Affordances, Duties and Values) are internally-orientated and hypothetical. The middle column (Consequences, Stakeholders and Situations) are externally orientated and empirical. The righthand column (Integrity and Product Ethics Specs) are integrative and strategic, building on ethical aspects identified the first and second columns. All of these aspects can be connected across the canvas and influence each other, describing a full ethics system.

Do you want us to fix every problem in the world?

It can be overwhelming to start thinking about ethics in a product setting. The duties can feel endless, the values never complete, the stakeholders never-ending. The Product Ethics Canvas is not asking your product to be perfect. It is asking you, in the very least, to have had a constructive conversation about ethics and to have made a call on what matters most for your product.

Where did you get the icons on the canvas from?
  1. possibility by Alice Design from the Noun Project
  2. Law by HLD from the Noun Project
  3. Value by hafiudin from the Noun Project
  4. positive negative by Yo! Baba from the Noun Project
  5. Stakeholders by P Thanga Vignesh from the Noun Project
  6. emergency by Alfred Brave from the Noun Project
  7. depend by Timofei Rostilov from the Noun Project
  8. requirement by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project

Do you have a Miro template for the canvas?

Working on it!