Project Management

The A, B, C’s of Ethics

From the Ethics Bistro Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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!

About this Blog

RSS

View Posts By:

Kimberly Whitby
Simona Bonghez
Karthik Ramamurthy
Alankar Karpe
Fabio Rigamonti
Mohamed Hassan
Valerie Denney
John Watson
Deepa Bhide
Amany Nuseibeh
Enrique Cappella
Gretta Kelzi
Albert Agbemenu

Past Contributors:

Lily Murariu

Recent Posts

The A, B, C’s of Ethics

The Traps of a Conflict of Interest

Is there something called an ethical protest?

Avoiding the Alligators While Navigating Uncharted Territory

Ethics as a competence of the Portfolio Program Project Manager: a personal journey.


Categories: code of ethics, Ethics


What words do you associate with A, B and C? Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie? Or Apple, Ball, and Cat? As students return to the physical and virtual classrooms, let’s have some fun with some concepts of Ethics…

What begins with A?  How about ACTION? I start with action not only because it is the beginning of the alphabet, but in dealing with an ethical dilemma: Don’t act before you have the facts.

Let’s say you are faced with an ethical dilemma: multiple stakeholders telling you how to proceed and the directions conflict with each other. You Vice President says “Don’t tell the customer about the test failure until we have it fixed.”  The customer demands “timeliness and transparency at all times.”

Using the PMI Ethical Decision Making Framework (EDMF), you would use the five-step process. Using these steps, the letter A can also stand for ASSESSMENT, ALTERNATIVES, ANALYSIS, and APPLICATION.

What begins with B? How about BULLY?

I am not talking about just a simply competitive, ill-mannered, or challenging personality. While there isn’t a single definition, a bully is someone who exhibits a persistent pattern of mistreatment. This may be verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical. Often, this includes a degree of humiliation.

What can you do? How about using the PMI Project Bully Tool? This tool encourages you to assess bullying behaviors in the workplace context and helps you recognize if you are properly interpreting the behaviors.

What begins with C? There are so many words that come to mind: Compliance, Conscience, and Culture.

One of my favorite descriptions of the difference between compliance and ethics is from a 2019 Forbes editorial by Bruce Weinstein. Compliance is adhering to the rules and regulations, or as he puts it, “what is required of me?” Ethical leaders ask, “How would an honorable person behave in this situation?” To me, this is closely related to having a conscience. What is your internal compass tell you when faced with a dilemma?

As I’m running out of space, let me finish with ethical culture. Is it simply an environment that makes it easy to do the right thing and difficult to do the wrong thing?

This seems too simplistic. To me, an ethical culture is one in which there is a collective belief in the values of the organization and one in which individuals are empowered to speak up and take ACTION.

That brings us back to the letter A!

I could spend days just talking about the A, B, Cs of ethics!

What do you think?

What other words, phrases, or concepts come to mind?

I’d love to hear from you. In the future, I hope to address the D, E, Fs (and more) of ethics.

For more information on the above, see https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/code  for the EDMF

For information about Project Bully  see https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/resources/bully

 

Posted by Valerie Denney on: September 15, 2020 09:33 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Thanks Valerie,
You said this and I love it "To me, an ethical culture is one in which there is a collective belief in the values of the organization and one in which individuals are empowered to speak up and take ACTION"

You rightly said that when something breaks, there will be one person who will ask you not to share all details with customer/client, when one of the values they always talk about is 'Transparency'. The ABC....Z of Ethics should follow top-down approach as well.

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life."

- Muhammad Ali