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Topics: Healthcare, Resource Management, Using PMI Standards
Ethics and Professional Responsibility -- MIA?
I've studied the new PMI talent triangle quite a bit over the past few days. It applies to all of us that wish to maintain our PMI certifications.

The major categories are of course 1) Leadership 2) Strategic and business management and 3) Technical Project Management. Below that, there are listed 31 detailed aspects of each leg of the triangle.

What strikes me as odd is that there is *no mention* of ethics or professional responsibility anywhere. We don't seem to be required to think about this, stay current on it, or earn any PDUs on the topic. Yet, it seems that now more than ever this may be more important topic.

There are new and modern security issues, identity protection concerns, personal data privacy, encryption, decryption and more.

So, I'd like to discuss why there are NO Ethics or Professional Responsibility requirements to maintain our certifications, in as PMI so accurately states: "today's increasingly complex and competitive global marketplace"

reference: http://www.pmi.org/learning/talent-management-resources.aspx
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@Dave: that is because it is not a profession so there is not a formal responsability on project management activities. That´s not implies that each person who acts as project management could perfom the activity as a professional. Lot of people, outside the PMI, when I talk about that get mad with me. After I said them to search what is needed to consider some discipline as a profession then their attitud change. So, what you have inside the PMI, is a non well written code of ethic (not well written because it has lot of ambiguity) what is acceptable in this type of disciplines.
@Sergio, As you certainly know from your many certifications, PMI does have a set of ethical codes - certainly it could be improved, yet it's included as testable material on the exam, again, like earned value or scheduling (triangle items). We are required to read, understand and agree to the code of ethics and I don't have any issue with that.

It can be found here: http://www.pmi.org/en/About-Us/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics.aspx.

But, wouldn't a way to improve the ethics statement be to make it a part of the triangle causing practitioners to research, study and attend classes on it? It's sort of self-fulfilling. If it was decided to be listed as PDU-worthy, then it would be refreshed, discussed and gradually improved.
How fortuitous that this month, projectmanagement.com is focusing on ethics...Dave, it must be kismet! :-)

Either that, or you just knew in advance!

I think that is an excellent point, and one worthy of discussion. I never noticed that ethics aren't part of our PDU structure, that the last time we have to look at them for PMI is when we pass our test, or if we run afoul of them, are reported, and lose our PMP.

I'm working on an article about ethics for publication this month, but not within this context Dave. I hope someone with more PMI institutional knowledge will weigh in on this topic.
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1 reply by David Maynard
Feb 01, 2016 6:42 PM
David Maynard
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Hi Mike! No advance notice here. I guess kismet it is.
@Dave: what I try to say is we can not ask for professional responsability because there is not basement to do that due to this is not a profession. No matter you can find the word profession in a lot of places inside the PMI (that is not correct) when you see which are the minimal requirements to consider something a profession you can understand why there is no basement in the case of PMI. About the ethic statement it has no sence to include it mainly in the actual state. I will give you an example. In the company where I am working right now ethic is one of the company values and more important you can see that all inside the company, from top management, are involved on that and behaive according to the code of ethic. We have to adhere to the code and we are training into the code each year where we have to pass a certification exam. When you read the code it is very especific. So, it is impossible do not understand what is and what is not something ethic for the company. That is not the case with the PMI´s code. And it has no sence, because the code of ethic of the company where you will work has priority on any other code of ethic.
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1 reply by David Maynard
Feb 01, 2016 6:45 PM
David Maynard
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@Sergio I like your description of a ethics / professional responsibly methodology. We here need one like that too.
Feb 01, 2016 4:46 PM
Replying to Michael Adams
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How fortuitous that this month, projectmanagement.com is focusing on ethics...Dave, it must be kismet! :-)

Either that, or you just knew in advance!

I think that is an excellent point, and one worthy of discussion. I never noticed that ethics aren't part of our PDU structure, that the last time we have to look at them for PMI is when we pass our test, or if we run afoul of them, are reported, and lose our PMP.

I'm working on an article about ethics for publication this month, but not within this context Dave. I hope someone with more PMI institutional knowledge will weigh in on this topic.
Hi Mike! No advance notice here. I guess kismet it is.
Feb 01, 2016 5:36 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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@Dave: what I try to say is we can not ask for professional responsability because there is not basement to do that due to this is not a profession. No matter you can find the word profession in a lot of places inside the PMI (that is not correct) when you see which are the minimal requirements to consider something a profession you can understand why there is no basement in the case of PMI. About the ethic statement it has no sence to include it mainly in the actual state. I will give you an example. In the company where I am working right now ethic is one of the company values and more important you can see that all inside the company, from top management, are involved on that and behaive according to the code of ethic. We have to adhere to the code and we are training into the code each year where we have to pass a certification exam. When you read the code it is very especific. So, it is impossible do not understand what is and what is not something ethic for the company. That is not the case with the PMI´s code. And it has no sence, because the code of ethic of the company where you will work has priority on any other code of ethic.
@Sergio I like your description of a ethics / professional responsibly methodology. We here need one like that too.
"...the code of ethic of the company where you will work has priority on any other code of ethic." I don't think I can agree with this. There are some pretty specific mandatory standards in PMI's code of ethics with regards to regulations and legal requirements. I don't know of an instance where someone was reported for breaking PMI's code of ethics, but I don know that if found in violation, a PMP could lose their certification, and membership in the organization. Here is the commentary on this section, "Comment: These provisions have several implications. Specifically, we do not engage in any illegal behavior, including but not limited to: theft, fraud, corruption, embezzlement, or bribery. Further, we do not take or abuse the property of others, including intellectual property, nor do we engage in slander or libel. In focus groups conducted with practitioners around the globe, these types of illegal behaviors were mentioned as being problematic.

As practitioners and representatives of our profession, we do not condone or assist others in engaging in illegal behavior. We report any illegal or unethical conduct. Reporting is not easy and we recognize that it may have negative consequences. Since recent corporate scandals, many organizations have adopted policies to protect employees who reveal the truth about illegal or unethical activities. Some governments have also adopted legislation to protect employees who come forward with the truth."

So lets say theoretically, a company has a subjective code of ethics, and a PM is encouraged to extend a bribe while doing work in a foreign country, where bribery is normal, and how business is done. Regardless of the company's view, this PM could be reported and lose their PMP certification status, should they engage in bribery.

This isn't relevant to any ongoing debate about project management being a profession or not. The practical reality doesn't give way to a semantic distinction.
@Mike, I've been thinking more about the sorts of things that you do for a living. For instance, I recently received an email that my medical records had been hacked (along with a few hundred thousand other folks). TRUE.

Questions pop into my mind. What did people know about the security of the system BEFORE the hack? What will the management do AFTER the hack has been detected? I think this fits into ethical decision making as well, and it's a rapidly changing area.

Think about how many IT PMPs there are. Think about hacking... Then, we as a profession have a "once and done" policy for ethics and professional responsibility. I want there to be more than that. I'd like it to be at least on the same level as other items on the triangle.

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