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Topics: Ethics
Ethics Review & External Politics
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Was on PMI's Ethics page looking to download a copy of the EDMF I'd accidentally deleted from my desktop and noticed a Public Announcement at the bottom of the page. The link led me to the Ethics Review Committee's (ERC) public reprimand of three PMs for violating the ethics code.
It is never good news to hear of ethics violations, but I was pleasantly surprised that ethics complaints are in fact seriously investigated by the ERC. This is the first time in my career (15 years) I've ever seen any sort of action taken following an ethics complaint.

In the last decade (2008-2018) the ERC has issued only 4 public reprimands. Yet, today (2019) I see 3 public reprimands. This could just be due to the nature of the violations and how the ERC chose to address them.
But, my brain keeps wondering if public admonishment is influenced by the current state of political affairs in the United States?
Has anyone else read the newspaper and thought - "If they aren't going to be held to any standard, at least I can hold myself to one!"

The PMI publication "Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide" lists Human Behavior as ".. a source of complexity that occurs from the interplay of conducts, demeanors, and attitudes of people."
Personal attitudes seems like something that could be influenced by external political forces.

So my question - is this uptick in public reprimands by the ERC influenced by external political events?
Is this just a reflection of our profession adjusting to changing times?
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It is really hard to answer the question.
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I wil sound rude but the PMI´s Code of Ethic has no sense at all. A code of ethic has sense when it is legally actionable, like you can find in real professions like medicine, law, etc or you can find inside organizations. PMI´s code of ethic is just to fullfil a needed requirement to get some status on its certifications.
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1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Dec 03, 2019 1:41 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Sergio -

The Code is actionable with regards to membership and continued maintenance of certification status - some folks have lost those as a result of being proven to be operating counter to the mandatory clauses of the Code. Given that the PMP is a required credential for PMs in certain companies, losing that credential might be as much of an impact as legal action.

Kiron
Network:1703



Dec 03, 2019 10:54 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
I wil sound rude but the PMI´s Code of Ethic has no sense at all. A code of ethic has sense when it is legally actionable, like you can find in real professions like medicine, law, etc or you can find inside organizations. PMI´s code of ethic is just to fullfil a needed requirement to get some status on its certifications.
Sergio -

The Code is actionable with regards to membership and continued maintenance of certification status - some folks have lost those as a result of being proven to be operating counter to the mandatory clauses of the Code. Given that the PMP is a required credential for PMs in certain companies, losing that credential might be as much of an impact as legal action.

Kiron
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Dec 03, 2019 2:15 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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But it is not actionable legally then it has no sense. There is not way to take action related to "mala praxis" (bad praxis) then it has no sense. Codes that has sense are those codes stated in medicine or other real professions. Just to comment, I think this debate has to be taken in the framework of what a profession is. That´s the only way to take this without loosing objectivity. It has no sense to defned this type of codes not matter it belongs to the PMI or any other institution. Institutions need to add a code of conduct to they certifications because is the only way that certifications are recognized by government insitutions that are regulating this. On the other side, phylosophical questions could arrive (in fact, ethic is a matter of that field) like "is a PM who is leading a project to create chemical weapons fullfilling the PMI´s code of ethics?".
Network:1937



Dec 03, 2019 1:41 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Sergio -

The Code is actionable with regards to membership and continued maintenance of certification status - some folks have lost those as a result of being proven to be operating counter to the mandatory clauses of the Code. Given that the PMP is a required credential for PMs in certain companies, losing that credential might be as much of an impact as legal action.

Kiron
But it is not actionable legally then it has no sense. There is not way to take action related to "mala praxis" (bad praxis) then it has no sense. Codes that has sense are those codes stated in medicine or other real professions. Just to comment, I think this debate has to be taken in the framework of what a profession is. That´s the only way to take this without loosing objectivity. It has no sense to defned this type of codes not matter it belongs to the PMI or any other institution. Institutions need to add a code of conduct to they certifications because is the only way that certifications are recognized by government insitutions that are regulating this. On the other side, phylosophical questions could arrive (in fact, ethic is a matter of that field) like "is a PM who is leading a project to create chemical weapons fullfilling the PMI´s code of ethics?".
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Dec 03, 2019 3:27 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Sergio -

I definitely get where you are coming from, but legally actionable might be very complex if not impossible in the profession where "it depends" is often the best response. Also, unlike an engineer or a doctor, it is rare that a project outcome can be solely traced to a decision made by a PM - most often, multiple stakeholders were involved and if there is no way to confirm for a fact that the PM didn't try to influence the right decisions, how can we hold them legally accountable.

As such, the focus of the Code remains on specific types of activities or behaviors which can be objectively judged.

Kiron
Network:2560



Conrad

thanks for noticing this.

I do not believe current political developments played a role in the ‚uptick‘. I think other factors like increased maturity of the PMI Ethics system and being able to issue complaints online are more contributing. Most sanctions to complaints will be private.

Ethics (of communities like professions) and Law are different, e.g. who submits to them or who decides on violations. Both try to set behaviors to give security to members.

Personally I do not regard this as an uptick. Given that more than a million people signed up, we should see many more complaints sanctioned publicly.
Network:1703



Dec 03, 2019 2:15 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
But it is not actionable legally then it has no sense. There is not way to take action related to "mala praxis" (bad praxis) then it has no sense. Codes that has sense are those codes stated in medicine or other real professions. Just to comment, I think this debate has to be taken in the framework of what a profession is. That´s the only way to take this without loosing objectivity. It has no sense to defned this type of codes not matter it belongs to the PMI or any other institution. Institutions need to add a code of conduct to they certifications because is the only way that certifications are recognized by government insitutions that are regulating this. On the other side, phylosophical questions could arrive (in fact, ethic is a matter of that field) like "is a PM who is leading a project to create chemical weapons fullfilling the PMI´s code of ethics?".
Sergio -

I definitely get where you are coming from, but legally actionable might be very complex if not impossible in the profession where "it depends" is often the best response. Also, unlike an engineer or a doctor, it is rare that a project outcome can be solely traced to a decision made by a PM - most often, multiple stakeholders were involved and if there is no way to confirm for a fact that the PM didn't try to influence the right decisions, how can we hold them legally accountable.

As such, the focus of the Code remains on specific types of activities or behaviors which can be objectively judged.

Kiron
Network:3064



Interesting discussion, mixed agreement with Sergio and Kiron, thank you for bringing up this topic Conrad.
Network:641



I don't believe the public reprimands are due to external politics. I think PMI is just protecting its brand by demonstrating that it holds PMs to high standards. If people started thinking PMI allowed PMs to get away with unethical behavior PMI would lose credibility in the business world, the organization would lose a lot of money, and many PMs would find themselves jobless.
Network:1081



I do not believe ethics are only bound by legally actionable activities. Companies and organizations have ethics committees to look at the legal but also the moral aspects. Ethics that bind a lawyer, for instance, is not always bound to legal implications. You may be disbarred without having committed a criminal offense or breaking the law.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Dec 04, 2019 4:43 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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@Anton, Indeed ethics start for mysoft. What I try to put the debate in a place related to what it is to give value to a profession. Just in case people is interested I encourage going to the definition of a profession and the definition of a certification or professional registration is. I worked a lot on those matters helping organizations similar to PMI to define the roles and certifications. In the case of you do not have a legally actionable professional registration the discipline can not be consider a profession. Organizations like AACC requires to have a code of conduct to certify a professional certification but not requires that code of conduct will be legally actionable. That´s the case of PMI´s code of conduct or others. But is not the case of medicine for example. That´s determine if a profession is a "real" profession or not and that´s make a profession valuable or not. For example, as I mentioned, what the PMI think about project managers that are working in military domain leading projects to create chemical weapons?. I am not against about those project managers just I am thinking about they are considered as a code of conduct violation.
Network:1937



Dec 04, 2019 12:14 AM
Replying to Anton Oosthuizen
...
I do not believe ethics are only bound by legally actionable activities. Companies and organizations have ethics committees to look at the legal but also the moral aspects. Ethics that bind a lawyer, for instance, is not always bound to legal implications. You may be disbarred without having committed a criminal offense or breaking the law.
@Anton, Indeed ethics start for mysoft. What I try to put the debate in a place related to what it is to give value to a profession. Just in case people is interested I encourage going to the definition of a profession and the definition of a certification or professional registration is. I worked a lot on those matters helping organizations similar to PMI to define the roles and certifications. In the case of you do not have a legally actionable professional registration the discipline can not be consider a profession. Organizations like AACC requires to have a code of conduct to certify a professional certification but not requires that code of conduct will be legally actionable. That´s the case of PMI´s code of conduct or others. But is not the case of medicine for example. That´s determine if a profession is a "real" profession or not and that´s make a profession valuable or not. For example, as I mentioned, what the PMI think about project managers that are working in military domain leading projects to create chemical weapons?. I am not against about those project managers just I am thinking about they are considered as a code of conduct violation.
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