Project Management

Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Topics: Change Management, Construction, Ethics
Process Automation Vs Human Resource Dilemmas
As a project manager, you will face situations that would require making a difficult choice between two courses of action, neither of which might be acceptable nor preferable. Today, there are a reasonable number of mining company’s globally working towards achieving 100% automation and project managers leading these projects may encounter ethical dilemmas relating to technology and human resources.

These ethical dilemmas arise when situations conflict with the Project Manager's Professional Standards or moral values. How will a Project Manager create a balance between local content laws that requires hiring of majority of human resources from the local community as against 100% automation of process. Does the Ethical Decision-Making Framework (EDMF) create an opportunity to resolve this dilemma? Please share your thoughts….
Sort By:
Page: 1 2 next>
Albert -

Local staffing and process automation might feel like opposite extremes, but is there no ability to look at automation as an opportunity to work with community groups to retrain the local staff to take on work which is less susceptible (and likely safer!) to automation?

Kiron
...
1 reply by Albert Agbemenu
Mar 17, 2021 8:23 AM
Albert Agbemenu
...
Yes Kiron, that is the situation. Opposite extremes. The challenge here is that, after automation, the system now makes it possible for equipment to be operated miles away from the location of actual work operations and therefore takes the workload away far from the local community.
This is not an ethical dilemma. Business are business. To automate process does not mean to fire people. I can put here lot of examples because I was in charge of this types of program/projects lot of times. And I can put here examples about companies that when have to fire people because some type of initiatives helped people to walk along it with minimal impact. It does not mean that in some occasions I personally helped people or I did not sleep for days thinking in the family of people that will lost their jobs. But the last is just personal. Unfortunately it is the game to play. Including it, I was myself included in the group of people that was fired because business decisions.
...
1 reply by Albert Agbemenu
Mar 17, 2021 8:38 AM
Albert Agbemenu
...
Hello Sergio,

I can associate myself with your situation and examples. I found myself leading a team to make a presentation at a mining conference on the subject "The Future of Work in the Mining Sector" to HR professionals within the sub region. The mining companies were considering investing in fully automated mining processes. A 100% automated mine meant that all the heavy duty equipment (which were operated by trained local employees) will be automated to become unmanned and operated hundreds of miles away from these mines. The challenge they had was how to manage the local content laws that required the mining companies to employ large numbers of employees from the local communities they operate in.

The only option we were able to come up with was to design an alternative livelihoods systems for the local communities so that their survival did not depend on working on these mines anymore.
Albert,

yes, EDMF and other tools may help with this decision making.
Also having a (ethical) mentor, and reading about ethical dilemmas and how to solve them. As a principle, each situation has to be looked at individually.

There is a good HBR article from 01/2020 which may help you prepare for becoming more ethical and decide more ethical. Title Building an ethical career. I summarise it it in here:
https://www.slideshare.net/walenta/human-s...-ghana-oct-2020

Most situations can be resolved by reframing the opposite sides of the dilemma. Do not think A or B but try to widen your view and think A and B. Design thinking is a good technique to help here.

Also, consider that a law is not necessarily a ethical code. Laws can be unfair to some, but are still necessary for reasons of living in a community.

Thomas
...
1 reply by Albert Agbemenu
Mar 17, 2021 8:51 AM
Albert Agbemenu
...
Thank you so much Thomas for you great insights. Thank you also for sharing the link to the presentation. This was actually a presentation to my chapter, PMI Ghana Chapter.

I like the phrase "Do not think A or B but try to widen your view and think A and B". Best way to solve such a dilemma. That was exactly how we decided to go about the situation.
Mar 11, 2021 8:21 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Albert -

Local staffing and process automation might feel like opposite extremes, but is there no ability to look at automation as an opportunity to work with community groups to retrain the local staff to take on work which is less susceptible (and likely safer!) to automation?

Kiron
Yes Kiron, that is the situation. Opposite extremes. The challenge here is that, after automation, the system now makes it possible for equipment to be operated miles away from the location of actual work operations and therefore takes the workload away far from the local community.
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Mar 17, 2021 6:31 PM
Kiron Bondale
...
Unfortunately, in such cases, there will be limited opportunity for the affected workers to continue to do the same work they did before, but that is where local governments or community groups could intervene to look at retraining options for such workers or even exert pressure on the companies themselves to fund that as a requirement of getting the necessary permits to do the work.

Kiron
Mar 13, 2021 4:12 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
This is not an ethical dilemma. Business are business. To automate process does not mean to fire people. I can put here lot of examples because I was in charge of this types of program/projects lot of times. And I can put here examples about companies that when have to fire people because some type of initiatives helped people to walk along it with minimal impact. It does not mean that in some occasions I personally helped people or I did not sleep for days thinking in the family of people that will lost their jobs. But the last is just personal. Unfortunately it is the game to play. Including it, I was myself included in the group of people that was fired because business decisions.
Hello Sergio,

I can associate myself with your situation and examples. I found myself leading a team to make a presentation at a mining conference on the subject "The Future of Work in the Mining Sector" to HR professionals within the sub region. The mining companies were considering investing in fully automated mining processes. A 100% automated mine meant that all the heavy duty equipment (which were operated by trained local employees) will be automated to become unmanned and operated hundreds of miles away from these mines. The challenge they had was how to manage the local content laws that required the mining companies to employ large numbers of employees from the local communities they operate in.

The only option we were able to come up with was to design an alternative livelihoods systems for the local communities so that their survival did not depend on working on these mines anymore.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Mar 17, 2021 10:09 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Hello Albert.
I worked in the same domain that you stated. The difference are more about the context than other type of things in my personal experience. Laws and other things in one country are totally different than another including it the way of thinking of the company depending on the country and mainly the culture where the company belongs to. I did the same work than you related performing conferences sometimes to sell an idea sometimes to fight with the competence to demonstrate we deliver better conditions for human being and environment. The point is, and perhaps here is where the ethical dilemma arrived in my case, this: I never, never talked or tried to defend a position that was a lie.
Mar 14, 2021 4:43 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Albert,

yes, EDMF and other tools may help with this decision making.
Also having a (ethical) mentor, and reading about ethical dilemmas and how to solve them. As a principle, each situation has to be looked at individually.

There is a good HBR article from 01/2020 which may help you prepare for becoming more ethical and decide more ethical. Title Building an ethical career. I summarise it it in here:
https://www.slideshare.net/walenta/human-s...-ghana-oct-2020

Most situations can be resolved by reframing the opposite sides of the dilemma. Do not think A or B but try to widen your view and think A and B. Design thinking is a good technique to help here.

Also, consider that a law is not necessarily a ethical code. Laws can be unfair to some, but are still necessary for reasons of living in a community.

Thomas
Thank you so much Thomas for you great insights. Thank you also for sharing the link to the presentation. This was actually a presentation to my chapter, PMI Ghana Chapter.

I like the phrase "Do not think A or B but try to widen your view and think A and B". Best way to solve such a dilemma. That was exactly how we decided to go about the situation.
Hi Albert, this is quite a hard nut to crack... I think deploying an automation process shouldn't translate to not filling resources with local content... I think getting a balance is better
...
1 reply by Albert Agbemenu
Mar 25, 2021 8:11 AM
Albert Agbemenu
...
I agree with you
Mar 17, 2021 8:38 AM
Replying to Albert Agbemenu
...
Hello Sergio,

I can associate myself with your situation and examples. I found myself leading a team to make a presentation at a mining conference on the subject "The Future of Work in the Mining Sector" to HR professionals within the sub region. The mining companies were considering investing in fully automated mining processes. A 100% automated mine meant that all the heavy duty equipment (which were operated by trained local employees) will be automated to become unmanned and operated hundreds of miles away from these mines. The challenge they had was how to manage the local content laws that required the mining companies to employ large numbers of employees from the local communities they operate in.

The only option we were able to come up with was to design an alternative livelihoods systems for the local communities so that their survival did not depend on working on these mines anymore.
Hello Albert.
I worked in the same domain that you stated. The difference are more about the context than other type of things in my personal experience. Laws and other things in one country are totally different than another including it the way of thinking of the company depending on the country and mainly the culture where the company belongs to. I did the same work than you related performing conferences sometimes to sell an idea sometimes to fight with the competence to demonstrate we deliver better conditions for human being and environment. The point is, and perhaps here is where the ethical dilemma arrived in my case, this: I never, never talked or tried to defend a position that was a lie.
Mar 17, 2021 8:23 AM
Replying to Albert Agbemenu
...
Yes Kiron, that is the situation. Opposite extremes. The challenge here is that, after automation, the system now makes it possible for equipment to be operated miles away from the location of actual work operations and therefore takes the workload away far from the local community.
Unfortunately, in such cases, there will be limited opportunity for the affected workers to continue to do the same work they did before, but that is where local governments or community groups could intervene to look at retraining options for such workers or even exert pressure on the companies themselves to fund that as a requirement of getting the necessary permits to do the work.

Kiron
I do not believe that automation equals no more human resources.

Usually automation means changing the way things are done and may require different competencies for the human resources.

The key is to evaluate the impact of the automation on the current jobs and plan a training initiative to re-coach the employees who were there to fill in the gaps when automation didn't exist.

This is a continuous debate, most of the time in conjuncture of AI development in the past year. The thing is that everything in today's world moves at a hallucinating speed and we need to adapt. But it does not mean there will not be jobs, it just means that jobs will change and in order to survive, companies will have to train their employees into these new jobs, otherwise they loose. Having the latest technologies without having experts that can maintain, evolve or adapt them will not bring anything to an enterprise.
...
1 reply by Albert Agbemenu
Mar 22, 2021 3:48 PM
Albert Agbemenu
...
Adela,

You have very valid points there. However, the impact of this situation will vary for various geographical locations. For example, the impact in a developed country will be completely different from that of a developing or under developed country.
Page: 1 2 next>  

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:
ADVERTISEMENTS

I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor's office was full of portraits by Picasso.

- Rita Rudner