Doing The Right Thing: Easier Than It Sounds?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Inherent in the principle of environmentally, socially or ethically responsible activity is the concept of "doing the right thing". We all believe that we understand and know what this means. When it comes time to do this on our projects, however, is it really as easy as we might initially think? Do we really know what it means to manage our projects responsibly? Are we prepared to do so in the face of pressure, influence or outright direction to the contrary?
 
The issues that underlie these questions are interesting and complex. Just what constitutes the "right thing" is overwhelmingly difficult to identify. Do we follow our conscience? Should we guide ourselves strictly by our own personal values and principles? Do we instead follow, or at least align with, corporate values and beliefs? Or is it safer to follow rules, regulations and legislation in defining what we should do and what actions we should take?
 
Part of the challenge associated with defining an appropriate path is a direct product of the world and times that we find ourselves in. The scrutiny of corporate and individual behavior is at an extremely high level, and the perceived entitlement of governments, regulators and prosecutors to challenge, question and even prescribe behavior has grown enormously in just a few short years. The result of this is an acute sensitivity to &…

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"History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot."

- Mark Twain

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