Project Management

Finding the Right Way

Edwin W. Smith

What is wrong with the following statements?

"We will definitely have that milestone done by next Wednesday."

"I apologize, Mr. Customer. We interpreted the contract to mean that this was a billable activity. Please ask your accounting office not to pay that part of our invoice."

Actually, nothing is wrong with them--unless you knew all along that you weren't going to complete that milestone as promised, or that the billable activity was questionable but thought you would see if the customer would catch it. 

Fortunately, major ethical issues are not an everyday occurrence on most projects. Ethical dilemmas tend to be minor in the overall scheme of things. The danger is that ignoring a series of "minor" ethical issues or being able to get away with unethical behavior has a tendency of becoming the norm.  If you can get away with something once, you can probably do it again.  Therein lies the real danger, because every time someone gets away with unethical behavior, he or she is probably rewarded in some way, inviting similar behaviors in the future.  

Codes of Conduct
The three best known professional organizations in project management are probably the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Association for Project Management (APM) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA).   Consider them Mecca's for good behavior and moral …


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"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."

- Groucho Marx