Lesson 035: When to obey harmful orders
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 7/12 ('The Pegasus')


An Admiral on board the Enterprise orders the ship into an extremely risky and unnecessary dangerous maneuver. Capt. Picard advises against the maneuver and countermands the order. The Admiral in turn pulls rank and orders Capt. Picard to follow his orders. Capt. Picard tells Data to note in the ship's log that this maneuver action is being taken over the Captain's explicit objections and then tells Data to follow through with the Admiral's orders.


There may be times when we find ourselves confronted with the dilemma of having received a directive from management that we find difficult to execute. For whatever reasons we may find ourselves battling with our own conscience to follow through with the orders, we must face the fact that there is only a binary solution to this problem.

Either follow the order or don't!

Disobeying the order to satisfy the conscience and exhibiting courage in the face of serious reprimand, including dismissal, for insubordination, may appear to be the right thing to do, at first. However, it is worthwhile to explore another facet of the problem before making such a quick judgment call.

If we truly believe that the order given will prove detrimental to the assignment, or to the personnel or the organization, and we have no one else supporting us in our stance, then consider the consequences of our absence from the scene, when there is no one left to protest the order.

At least with our presence, and by our words and actions, there may still be a slight chance that others may listen and that we may be the only one standing between a bad order and a resulting catastrophe.

If we do choose to follow through with orders which go against our better judgment, it is imperative that we log our disagreement with the order appropriately, according to the established protocol within our organization. Then, just as Capt. Picard, we too can remain on hand to look out for the safety of those to whom we are loyal, whether it is the assignment or the people or the organization.

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