Project Management

Avoiding the Alligators While Navigating Uncharted Territory

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We all tackle ethical dilemmas. Wrong decisions can break careers. Which are the key challenges faced? What are some likely solutions? Where can we find effective tools? Who can apply these and why? Dry, theoretical discussions don't help. Join us for lively, light conversations to learn, share and grow!

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Categories: Behavior, Change, Ethics, Values

2020 has been quite a year so far….. And we aren’t even halfway through it.  Individuals, families, friends and business entities have been stretched (and stressed) in new and unusual way.  For those fortunate to still have a project management job, the challenges are often related to communicating in the completely virtual environment.  Even in those organizations which had a distributed workforce before the start of 2020, things have changed. It was common to mix phone calls and zoom meetings with periodic face to face meetings.  Gone is the physical networking.  Gone are the physical conferences.  Gone are the trips through airport security and staying in hotels. Gone are the day long whiteboard problem solving sessions.   

Transitioning to a virtual environment requires a mindset change.  How tempting it is to find other things to do around the house when no one is looking.  How will the boss even know I cleaned the garage, or planted the garden, consulted for another company, or simply read a book unrelated to work during my normal working hours?

Is it that ethical expectations have changed?  To that I say NO!   The expectations haven’t changed, but perhaps the change that caused a slide down the slippery slope.  Let’s take a moment and reflect. The PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (AKA- the Code) describes the expectations that we have of ourselves and our fellow practitioners in this global project management community. It consists of four fundamental values described below.

First is RESPONSIBILITY. I ask you, if you committed to completing a task and you just didn’t get around to it, are you taking ownership for your decisions?  Should there be consequences?

Next is RESPECT. I ask you, if you improperly account for the hours you worked and use the company laptop for a personal project during working hours,  are you respecting the resources the client has provided you? 

Next is FAIRNESS. I ask you, if you are consulting on another project management activity during your prescribed work hours, are you exhibiting fairness by using this situation for your own self-interest?

The last value is HONESTY. I ask you, if you tell your boss that the work is on track and nearly done when you know that isn’t the care, are you exhibiting honesty?

No one said change would be easy.  What if the new norm is a continual evolution? I, for one, believe it is.  Taking the time to look at the Code, and reflecting upon your own behavior during a time of change strengthens the professionalism of the global project management community.

Maybe Aldo Leopold (1887- 1948) said it best:  ethical behavior is doing the right thing when on one else is watching. This still rings true today.


Images are provided by Creative Commons.


Posted by Valerie Denney on: June 08, 2020 12:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (11)

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Hi Valerie,
thanks for that. I think its important to self check and remind ourselves regularly of the 4 pillars of the PMI code of ethics that we subscribed to when becoming a PMP.

Very interesting article., thanks for sharing

Great article, Valerie!
Indeed, the world has changed, but thanks for reminding us that Ethical Expectations have not!

I found very useful how you explained the values with real, down-to-earth questions.

Thanks for that useful article

Thanks for sharing this and reminding that expectations haven't changed. Four values are as important as they were before.

Thanks Valerie for sharing, the ethics values are defiantly very important to all of us

Thank you Valerie for the triggers of what's next in terms of Post-COVID recovery, and for reminding for the values that we should look for when working with people.

Valores, no son solo parte esencial de nuestra profesión sino también de nuestra vida misma; en la medida que hagamos lo correcto tendremos la autoridad moral de poder solicitar lo mismo a nuestros colaboradores

Valerie, the 4 pillars of the PMI code of ethics are indispensable. Appreciate the poignant article. They have transcended time. They have been tried, tested, and are true.

Thank you for sharing Valerie. I would add to the above is that our responsibility to deliver outcomes is becoming more important than measuring how many hours we are tied to a desk. Management by outcomes enables better flexibility and ability to manage our day. While being tied to a desk might have enabled the boss to monitor and sometimes control, trust in staff, understanding individuals' and families needs during challenging times is critical to achieving fruitful outcomes, enabling a balanced distribution of time and increasing staff motivation and commitment.

Thanks for sharing,
Aldo Leopold (1887- 1948) ethical behavior is doing the right thing when on one else is watching. This still rings true today.

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