Project Management Institute

Are you ethical?

VOICES | Project Perspectives

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Hannah Molette, PMP

independent contractor, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Ethics is critical in every aspect of business today. Over the years in my role as a project manager, I have learned that you should value your integrity. Being a person of sound ethical behavior is challenging at times, but acting with great integrity is like a parachute or a safety net. Nine times out of 10, the evidence you have left behind in an unethical act will be discovered at some point in the future.

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Michela Ruffa, PMP

senior project manager, Hotelplan, Bologna, Italy

Ethics in project management is, in my opinion, the way stakeholders choose to inhabit the project “space” and make it the suitable reality they desire. Without ethics, no projects are possible.

My most challenging ethical dilemma is one I face every day—making the right choices to guarantee project success while making sure the project is where stakeholders want it to be. All other ethical dilemmas come about as a consequence of this.

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Sonya Surrett, PhD, PMP

Robbins-Gioia, Oxford, Alabama, USA

Ethics are a part of every project—and they can come into play as early as the team compilation process. Steer clear of any ethical dilemmas when putting together the ideal team by considering the candidates' proven skills and specific knowledge. A person's station in the organization's hierarchy or connections should not be a factor. By abstaining from office politics, you are creating an environment that helps defuse conflicts within the group.

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Geraldine Mongold

product manager, Seilevel, Austin, Texas, USA

At a previous job, I was hired to manage a project that was foundering. I threw myself into defining requirements, developing a realistic ROI and getting the right stakeholders involved. Meanwhile, the CIO and COO battled over whether the project should be cancelled. I came to the realization that the project was much more complex than I'd originally thought and would likely not provide the benefits that had been initially estimated. Recommending that the project be cancelled felt like signing my own pink slip [discharge notice], and I knew that I would make an enemy out of the COO, who had invested a lot of personal power into the project. But it was the right thing to do.

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Mike Leisegang

CEO, Know-It-All Project Management Training, Johannesburg, South Africa

I was a program manager on a large government project. At one stage, we had approached a number of suppliers with a request for quotation for product information and indicative pricing, as well as for information on how well their products met a set of pre-determined criteria. The product—approximately 3,500 devices, worth a small fortune—would have been rolled out to the entire country. The suppliers were invited to put their products through a set of stringent tests in our laboratory, and the results were scored.

One of the engineers who scored the products then produced a draft report that contained the test results and pricing. It was circulated to the project team for comment.

My manager had one of the suppliers at his desk when the report came out, and he somehow managed to show the results of the report to the supplier. Within a day, the report had been copied and circulated to the rest of the suppliers, who were furious that their pricing was now available to their competitors.

Because I had seen what had happened between my manager and the supplier, I reported them via the government's whistle-blowing scheme. As it turned out, the scheme did very little to protect my anonymity, and it didn't take long before my manager and his manager were finding reasons to try to terminate my contract. It was very challenging to continue working there while I found another contract. Although it had unpleasant consequences, I knew I had done the right thing ethically.

“BEING A PERSON OF SOUND ETHICAL BEHAVIOR IS CHALLENGING AT TIMES,
BUT ACTING WITH GREAT INTEGRITY IS LIKE A PARACHUTE OR A SAFETY NET.”

— Hannah Molette, PMP

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

JANUARY 2012 PM NETWORK

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