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Adaptive Ethics for Digital Transformation

By Mark Schwartz

A New Approach for Enterprise Leaders (Featuring Frankenstein vs. the Gingerbread Man)

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Enterprise strategist and author Mark Schwartz shows how we need to learn to think differently about relationships with customers and employees. That the ethics of digital transformation is a matter of cultivating and applying virtues rather than applying rules. Ethics is not just a matter of refraining from doing bad things. It’s a matter of building the world we want, and it’s the job of company executives.

Foreword by Gene Kim

  • Publication Date July 25, 2023
  • Pages 288
  • Dimensions 6 x 9 inches
  • Paperback ISBN 9781950508716
  • eBook ISBN 9781950508723
  • Audiobook ISBN 9781950508747


  • Accessible & Fun

    Takes a dry and dense subject and makes it fun and applicable to today's leader.

  • Culture Shift

    Provides the necessary thinking to truly shift your organizations' culture to succeed in the digital age.

  • Real Change

    Defines how leaders can address the ethical dilemmas of today (like AI and privacy) in realistic, actionable terms.

  • Expert Author

    Mark Schwartz is an experienced leader uniquely qualified to help enterprise leaders navigate rapid change.

About the Book

Digital transformation doesn’t just raise ethical issues, it—in itself—is an ethical shift.

Business leaders today are struggling to manage conflicting imperatives, those of the emerging digital world and those of the bureaucratic world of the past. The act of digital transformation requires a deep change in the moral outlook and ethical assumptions of a business. But how do we get there?

Enterprise strategist and author Mark Schwartz shows how we need to learn to think differently about relationships with customers and employees. That the ethics of digital transformation is a matter of cultivating and applying virtues rather than applying rules. Ethics is not just a matter of refraining from doing bad things. It’s a matter of building the world we want, and it’s the job of company executives.

Featuring a chapter on bullshit, a handy chart of excuses for bad behavior, and Schwartz’s typically paradoxical blend of deep insight and pasta jokes, this book guides business leaders as they struggle to adapt their bureaucratic framework of ethics to the emerging landscape of the digital world. By the end of the book, business leaders will rethink what it takes to be an ethical organization.

Mark Schwartz
Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is an iconoclastic CIO and a playful crafter of ideas, an inveterate purveyor of lucubratory prose. He has been an IT leader in organizations small and large, public, private, and nonprofit. As an Enterprise Strategist for Amazon Web Services, he uses his CIO experience to bring strategies to enterprises or enterprises to strategies, and bring both to the cloud. As the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, he provoked the federal government into adopting Agile and DevOps practices. He is pretty sure that when he was the CIO of Intrax Cultural Exchange he was the first person ever to use business intelligence and supply chain analytics to place au pairs with the right host families. Mark speaks frequently on innovation, bureaucratic implications of DevOps, and using Agile processes in low-trust environments. With a BS in computer science from Yale, a master’s in philosophy from Yale, and an MBA from Wharton, Mark is either an expert on the business value of IT or else he just thinks about it a lot.

To Author Archive

"I found it to be one of the most astonishing and rewarding books I’ve read in a long time….[Schwartz] takes us on an astonishing journey to understand why organizations behave in the way they do….For anyone who wants to more deeply understand how and why people and organizations work in the way they do, I recommend this book."

Gene Kim

Researcher and Bestselling Author of The Phoenix Project and The Unicorn Project

"This is an important resource for any leader in an organization going through a digital transformation, but beware that it will leave you with more questions than answers…. This book shows that undertaking a digital transformation has an important ethical dimension that’s often not considered. Mark pulls hidden assumptions about ethics out of the shadows and into the light, so we can at least talk about them openly….At the end, I’m still not sure about the ethics of kicking a robot dog, but the robot vacuum cleaner definitely had it coming."

Gojko Adzic

Partner at Neuri Consulting LLP, author of Running Serverless, Humans vs Computers, Impact Mapping, Specification by Example and more

"Mark has no business writing a book like this. It’s wonderful and deeply thought out, maybe even ethical. He gets to the parts beneath culture change that will sustain digital transformations. He provides a way to balance all stakeholders' needs and desires throughout the changes in delivery. Each of his books follows from the previous and gets to a deeper level of business change in an authentic and humble way."

Joshua Seckel

VP Solutions, GovCIO

"I hope this book will inspire leaders of digital transformation to look beyond what is possible, and define their own virtues (or use [Mark’s]) to determine what is sensible, and ethical, and that which helps people and societies flourish."

Wouter Trumpie

Distinguished Architect, Salesforce

"A unique blend of ethics, agility and leadership in a thoroughly enjoyable style for digital business and technology leaders. Morality just got added as the new "ility" to think about, virtuously!"

Dinkar Gupta

CIO/CTO, KPMG, Switzterland

"With the rapid acceleration of our world, the pace of software and data has also skyrocketed. To keep up with this challenge, we need a set of ethics that is highly responsive, agile, and reliable. Fortunately, Mark Schwartz has bestowed upon us a remarkable and indispensable framework for modern ethics, empowering us to confidently and gracefully tackle the obstacles of our fast-paced world."

Abel Sanchez

Director, MIT GDC

"Mark Schwartz has created a reference for leaders managing their way through the labyrinth of shifting expectations and ethical dilemmas in the digital age. Part guidebook, part historical non-fiction, part comic commentary, Schwartz's prose brings life to a topic often dry as chalk dust. The result is a cracking read that should have readers returning to its dog-eared pages as much for its entertainment value as its leadership lessons."

Joe Anzalone

Vice President, Strategy, CareRev

"Thought-provoking, yet practical. Real talk about ethics is lacking, and we see the unfortunate results all too frequently. Read this book, apply the ideas, and make an impact on your projects and teams."

Lynn Langit

Cloud Architect Who Codes

"An insightful, thought-provoking exploration of the ethical landscape in the digital age, this book dove head-first into the everyday dilemmas that arise in the business world. With wit and wisdom, the author brilliantly tackles the complexities of modern ethics in the workplace, offering valuable insights and guidance for anyone grappling with the implications of digital transformation. This was a fascinating and engaging read that will change the way you think about the intersection of technology, traditional bureaucratic values, and new digital values. This book is a must-read for executives, employees, and anyone seeking to make responsible decisions in an increasingly complex world."

Mansi Kapadia

Global Head of Innovation and Digital Transformation, Lazard

"Few concepts are more important in this wild world we live in than ethics. Schwartz guides us through a colorful journey through the history of its meaning, in life and work, until that distinction ceases to make much sense, and is this new understanding of ethical values that will give purpose—and maybe save—organizations in the digital world. [Schwartz does this] in a lively and humorous style, through which we are presented to top philosophers and thinkers in a delightfully instructive way."

Rodrigo Lobo

Partner at Nextep Investimentos

"Mark’s latest book insightfully addresses ethics in digital transformation, offering an engaging blend of humor, examples, and narratives. Delving into necessary mindset shifts and essential “soft skills” needed for successful digital transformation, Mark also highlights key virtues for success in this complex field. This must-read book is invaluable for leaders of government agencies and business seeking to successfully lead digital transformation."

Daniel Franzen

CEO and Digital Transformation Advisor, Franzen Consulting

"Adaptive Ethics for Digital Transformation is timely, relevant, and something many people need to read. With the rise of information sharing, unethical behavior at all levels of companies, and daily technology updates, ethical decision consideration is a must! Schwartz covers a range of ethical dilemmas, virtues, theories, and lessons learned through history in his typical entertaining style. I couldn’t imagine a better way to postulate the ethical ramifications of digital transformation by reading a book that merges philosophy, quippy anecdotes (Frankenstein’s Monster, the Gingerbread Man, Rumpelstiltskin, and more), and real-world examples."

Kristina Grace Whitfield

Technical Advisor, US Air Force

"Business transformation (Total Quality Management, Six sigma, etc.) is historically a risky proposition in most organizations. In Mark’s latest book, he makes a compelling argument that digital transformation is made more complex due to the clash of identities as an organization moves from a rules-based approach to that of a digital enterprise."

Scott Nasello

Senior Director of Engineering Productivity, eBay

"This latest book from Mark Schwartz is an absolute delight—continuing his multi-layered and lyrical exploration of Digital Transformation. Mark unpacks complex topics with a deft balance of humour and wisdom, mixing deep analysis, personal insights, military history, philosophy, fairytale characters and pasta varieties. Whether, like me, you’re a fan eagerly awaiting the latest in a well-crafted series or if this is your first time to Mark’s writing. I guarantee smiles, reflections, and a greater appreciation for the challenges faced by organizations wrestling with the leviathon of modern ways-of-working."

Richard James

Nationwide Building Society, Accenture

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