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Transparency and Ethics... How To Achieve the Balance?
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As project managers/change makers, our organizations and clients expect transparency; honest, accurate and complete reporting that complies with financial standards and adheres to regulatory requirements. Transparency also includes communicating messages that aren't open to misinterpretation and that clearly represent the intentions of the project and its messages.

If you a project manager working for a large corporation, comment on transparency when the senior executive pressures to meet low probability targets? How transparent are you with the client when your executive manager wants to have everyone believe things are OK?

If you are a consultant working for an outsourcing organization, how transparent and consistent is your reporting to your hiring organization versus your client? Are they the same? Or are they different? And why?
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Valerie -

Great question! If there is a disconnect between the behaviors of your leadership and your principles, then it comes down to how strong you hold your values over your continued employment... There is a fine line between positioning some news in a favorable light and out right deceiving the client.

Kiron
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Aug 29, 2018 9:51 AM
Valerie Denney
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Kiron, Thank you for responding. I couldn't agree more. This is a matter of values. How do your personal values within with that of your organization? Often that is the clash we face.
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Great question Valerie, I have seen people focusing on making the customer org happy and hiding bad news from them which they share with hiring org, which in my opinion is not right and been transparent. As a PM, my view is to share the bad news as early as possible so that damage can be minimized.
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Aug 29, 2018 9:55 AM
Valerie Denney
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Thanks for the great response Alankar,

I have seen the same thing that you refer to. People want to make the customer happy, but at what cost? Maybe a customer is happy in the short run, but certainly won't be when the truth is revealed.
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Valerie - I believe that all Project manager have to walk this thin line (ethics vs. transparency) while communicating to stakeholders.

While ethics is paramount, the transparency is directly related to how a stakeholder will process the informatation. A negative/unfavorable news may need some groundwork ahead of time to dampen the blow.

In my experience, a clear honest opinion/answer with 'appropriate context' is always helpful to manage situation compared to tainted/incomplete answers.
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Aug 29, 2018 9:58 AM
Valerie Denney
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Thank you Ashok,

You bring up a really key point. Communication is presenting the information in an appropriate manner. The words we choose and the actions we take says it all. Just because it is bad news doesn't mean that the customer will over-react. Stating the problem, stating the root cause, and describing the action plan in a professional manner are key. Sometimes the customer will react negatively, but acting in a professional manner is always appropriate
Network:14418



A balance is difficult. Quite often they are swapping top spot on the ladder.
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1 reply by Valerie Denney
Aug 29, 2018 10:01 AM
Valerie Denney
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Sante,

Thank you for responding. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with the difficult balance.

I personally know of a program manager who chose to hide information from a customer because the team didn't have a solution yet. The customer CONFRONTED the program manager and asked "is there anything else you are lying about?" Certainly that is a situation that could have been avoided.

There is nothing wrong with saying that you don't have a solution yet, but will have one by xxxx. Follow-up is key.
Network:455



Aug 28, 2018 4:50 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Valerie -

Great question! If there is a disconnect between the behaviors of your leadership and your principles, then it comes down to how strong you hold your values over your continued employment... There is a fine line between positioning some news in a favorable light and out right deceiving the client.

Kiron
Kiron, Thank you for responding. I couldn't agree more. This is a matter of values. How do your personal values within with that of your organization? Often that is the clash we face.
Network:455



Aug 28, 2018 9:00 PM
Replying to Alankar Karpe
...
Great question Valerie, I have seen people focusing on making the customer org happy and hiding bad news from them which they share with hiring org, which in my opinion is not right and been transparent. As a PM, my view is to share the bad news as early as possible so that damage can be minimized.
Thanks for the great response Alankar,

I have seen the same thing that you refer to. People want to make the customer happy, but at what cost? Maybe a customer is happy in the short run, but certainly won't be when the truth is revealed.
Network:455



Aug 28, 2018 10:39 PM
Replying to Ashok Kumar
...
Valerie - I believe that all Project manager have to walk this thin line (ethics vs. transparency) while communicating to stakeholders.

While ethics is paramount, the transparency is directly related to how a stakeholder will process the informatation. A negative/unfavorable news may need some groundwork ahead of time to dampen the blow.

In my experience, a clear honest opinion/answer with 'appropriate context' is always helpful to manage situation compared to tainted/incomplete answers.
Thank you Ashok,

You bring up a really key point. Communication is presenting the information in an appropriate manner. The words we choose and the actions we take says it all. Just because it is bad news doesn't mean that the customer will over-react. Stating the problem, stating the root cause, and describing the action plan in a professional manner are key. Sometimes the customer will react negatively, but acting in a professional manner is always appropriate
Network:455



Aug 29, 2018 6:26 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
...
A balance is difficult. Quite often they are swapping top spot on the ladder.
Sante,

Thank you for responding. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with the difficult balance.

I personally know of a program manager who chose to hide information from a customer because the team didn't have a solution yet. The customer CONFRONTED the program manager and asked "is there anything else you are lying about?" Certainly that is a situation that could have been avoided.

There is nothing wrong with saying that you don't have a solution yet, but will have one by xxxx. Follow-up is key.
...
1 reply by Sante Vergini
Aug 29, 2018 5:05 PM
Sante Vergini
...
Hi Valerie. Ethics is the "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity". Transparency is the "lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making". While it could be argued that the meaning of transparency is universally understood and shared, the same thing cannot be said for ethics. Ethics is "concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy". But which society; who's morals? And who decides "what is good" for an individual. Religion? The legal system? Culture? In some countries it is not always appropriate to be so "transparent", and since appropriateness can be associated with morals in a society, it may not always be ethical to be so transparent. Therefore, two separate societies may view the same action (or inaction) as moral, and immoral...ethical and unethical. hence transparency and ethics are sometimes swapped as the top priority item when engaging stakeholders.
Network:14418



Aug 29, 2018 10:01 AM
Replying to Valerie Denney
...
Sante,

Thank you for responding. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with the difficult balance.

I personally know of a program manager who chose to hide information from a customer because the team didn't have a solution yet. The customer CONFRONTED the program manager and asked "is there anything else you are lying about?" Certainly that is a situation that could have been avoided.

There is nothing wrong with saying that you don't have a solution yet, but will have one by xxxx. Follow-up is key.
Hi Valerie. Ethics is the "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity". Transparency is the "lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making". While it could be argued that the meaning of transparency is universally understood and shared, the same thing cannot be said for ethics. Ethics is "concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy". But which society; who's morals? And who decides "what is good" for an individual. Religion? The legal system? Culture? In some countries it is not always appropriate to be so "transparent", and since appropriateness can be associated with morals in a society, it may not always be ethical to be so transparent. Therefore, two separate societies may view the same action (or inaction) as moral, and immoral...ethical and unethical. hence transparency and ethics are sometimes swapped as the top priority item when engaging stakeholders.
Network:455



Sante,

Thanks for responding again,

I'm not really sure that everyone has a common understanding of transparency--- or at least not to the same degree. One might that keeping some information private is a form of information hiding (and lack of transparency), while others all information should be made available to everyone all the time.

Your point on ethics is well taken as well. I'm afraid that "for the good of the many" has become a buzz phrase. Some question what the greatest good really means--- “to whom?” This question focused on underlying ethical theory: utilitarianism (maximize utility; maximum well being). But there are so many other foundational ethics theories.
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