Project Management

Ethics Bistro

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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!

About this Blog


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.

Viewing Posts by John Watson

A differing view- Of what we see and hear

Have you ever had an ah-ha moment because of something that just happens to you?

As I sat at my desk preparing for a Skype call with a colleague from across the globe,  I watched the sun rise as it kissed and glistened the morning dew.  While sitting in front of a pair of windows, I noticed the one on my right had taken on cloudiness in the glass, and the window on the left is perfectly clear. And yes, the azaleas are still blooming, and the mock cherry is starting to light up!

Since I sit right in the middle, and with a slight turn of my head I could go from a crispy clear view to a not so clear view. 

As the phone rang, a multitude of thoughts were racing through  my head, including several  quotes, “if you change the way you look at things the things you look at change!” – Wayne Dyer.

“Good leadership requires the ability to imagine life through another’s eyes”- Seth Godin.

And then I checked on a definition of Empathy- Being able to appreciate and experience emotion from another person’s perspective.”

This led me to think about the many ways we view the world, and how often we have differing interpretations or views of the same idea or situation, whether it be a problem, an opportunity or a solution.  We tend to view the world and our impact through our own lenses.  I wondered how much we could benefit and learn from other perspectives  and how my   friend was seeing the world today.  

So, I asked…., and here is a small portion of our conversation. 

Although we did not achieve the intended purpose of our call, what we did accomplish by better understanding each other and growing our relationship was much more valuable.   

While this happened by accident, we imagined how many of our  relationships that would  benefit from having more of these types of conversations, intentionally! 

We discussed the critical importance of clarity.  What is crystal  clear to one person may not be so clear to the next person.  And within that difference, with its presence or absence, therein lies the opportunity for conflict, creativity, and growth.  And among other things, also the breakdown or building of Trust!

What is the difference between those two outcomes?

If we can so easily  become  vulnerable to see things differently, how often do we  understand the things we hear differently from intended?   Or how often do  two or more of us  hear   the same things, and walk away with a different understanding of what was said?

How often do we take the time to look at things through the other person’s lenses, and make a sincere effort to try and understand what, why or how they see things? 

Empathy is a leadership competency.  Practice putting yourself in the other persons shoes, see it and hear it from where they stand, and see if you can find a common ground to build on.

Discovering clarity on our different perspectives increases our understanding, capacity and ability to find the best solutions and outcomes for whatever we are trying to do.

If you think that is important, how might we make achieving clarity a shared responsibility?

Please join our conversation, we welcome your perspective. Where do you stand on this?


Posted by John Watson on: February 10, 2019 09:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Is speaking up your responsibility?

If yes, then what other values or attributes should we include when exercising this responsibility?

Recent articles and discussion questions on were about lying and cheating and the difficulty in talking about ethical issues.  Research indicates there is an increase in unethical conduct and a decline in the reporting of it. The evidence indicates there is a correlation to an absence of speaking up.
Speaking up goes beyond ethics.
Would you agree this could include but is not limited to things that need to be said to stakeholders about your projects and with your relationships, personally and professionally?
Another source  indicates there is an increase in complaints over ethical issues which are not based on unethical conduct. There often seems to be a rush to a misguided judgement and action taken on perceived ethical infractions, when it may be a personal issue, a disagreement over a decision, or a simple misunderstanding, only to mention a few of the possible reasons.

Have you ever had a colleague or friend, speak up in detail with you regarding an ongoing problem they are having, only to learn they have not shared any portion of their concerns with the people involved or the source of the dilemma?

There are at least two sides of seeing something and saying something.
If you see something good, how often do you show your appreciation and gratitude?
If you see something that gives you concerns, how do you validate your observation?
Do you become curious of one’s intent or possible consequences before you speak?
How well are you listening? Does it give you an awareness of when to speak or when not to speak?
What is your listening style, apathetic, empathic, sympathetic, or pathetic?

Speaking up is not just telling, it could be asking and perhaps that is the better way through respectful questioning and curiosity. It can provide you clarity and a better understanding. It helps to acknowledge what is known and identify what may be missing.
Are you sparking the fire of fury or creativity?

Speaking up is not just saying something. Do you really make your words count?
Do you think complaining or criticizing without data is whining?
When is the point it becomes important enough for you to say something?
Does it have to threaten one’s wellbeing or safety, your values or your principles?
Why and when do we speak up, and why and when don’t we?
When does this happen to you?
What is your level of intolerance?
What is your tolerance of silence?
Understanding that in certain cultures, it is disrespectful to speak up. What examples or recommendations do you have for this situation?

If you don’t think it is your responsibility to speak up, who should?

If you do think speaking up is your responsibility, speak up, speak out, and speak well!
Pick the right time, the right reason and do it with fairness, honesty, and respect!

Is there anything you want to say!?!


Posted by John Watson on: December 12, 2018 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

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

- Groucho Marx