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Topics: Ethics, Information Technology, Leadership
Policies and politics
As a PM, what will you do if you have to decide between policies and politics?
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As a PM, I'd put to stakeholders(politicians) attention that policies are not aligned with what they reccomend. Doing this, hopefully they feel engaged in focusing on policies and contributing on their improvement.
1 reply by Alankar Karpe
Sep 08, 2020 3:26 AM
Alankar Karpe
Thank you Matteo!
Alankar -

I think you need to clarify your question. Policies are usually not open to negotiation - not following them would put you, your team or your organization at risk.

1 reply by Alankar Karpe
Sep 08, 2020 3:25 AM
Alankar Karpe
I encountered a situation where politics actually ignore policies and took some decisions

I think you are asking us to choose between (playing) politics and policies from a PM perspective. Stakeholder management requires a certain degree of political game, whereas policies are typically predefined. Thus, I would go with politics.
Well Alankar, it depends and is always situational.

If following policy results in bad consequences for many, you have to make up your mind. It certainly is a ethical dilemma. Looking at it from different perspectives and asking others for their view helps.

Deciding to break policy may expose you to punishment, so this decision also needs courage. Make the ethical decision assuming you have the courage to stand by yourself.

We see this every day, e.g. protesters being harassed or detained, journalists killed or silenced. You hope that the guy at the atomic button makes the right decision. The Nazis did nothing illegal.

Three perspectives should be used in ethical decisions: deontology (following rules), utilitarism (best outcome for most) and Aristotle (virtue-based).

And 3 tests can be used to check your decision: would you mind having your decision made public, is your decision a template for others, and if you see yourself in the mirror, are embarrased or proud?
1 reply by Alankar Karpe
Sep 08, 2020 3:28 AM
Alankar Karpe
Thank you Tom for your contribution!
Both are totally different. It has to be understanding in the framework of business rules. Business Policy are not actionable then you need business rules to guide the actions needed to achieve the business policy. Business process are created with business rules and if you take into account the business process are the way the business ask to environmental stimuli in order to survive, growth and develop then business are totally lost if they do not take into account that. But into each business you have people personal agendas which conforms the business politics. The art of the business leaders is to align both. Business culture is the glue in most in the cases. So, if you are asking about yourself as project manager I am follow this directive "I am doing well if you are doing well" but always understanding the business rules are first. And if I do not agree with the business rules then I live the job place.
Politics is the ability to influence others and this is something that PM defiantly need, Politics is a skill regardless people use it for good or bad purpose, but because good people don't like it the bad people master it, I don't see a conflict here if PM use the politician skills for good and to apply the company ethics policies.
To just try to avoid the fact this will not solve the problem, the politics is there either you like it or not, so the PM needs to play it for good and influence others to follow the policies.
To succeed, you must follow the policy and manage properly the politics!
Politics cannot be avoided, wherever there are people there will be politics. So if the politics is too much to bear, better to go to another place where this is less politics.
Policies vs. politics..... Where there is conflict, there is a decision to be made. While this is not necessarily an ethical dilemma (but might be), the Ethical Decision Making Framework is a great place to start. What are the alternatives? What are the pros and cons of each? Check it out at At that site, you can download a copy of the EDMF.
Part of the answer might be cultural. How strongly does your organization believe in and enforce the written policies? Are the policies RULES (almost LAWS) which must never be broken, or are they GUIDELINES with little backing from the organization.

Another consideration is whether the policy is written or not. I've heard some refer to "unwritten" policies. I think what that really means is that this instantiates the cultural expectations.
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