Drawing the Line”An Extreme Project Management Responsibility
In the situations previously described, the behavior could be seen as simply the behavior of individuals who lack guidelines on ethics. However, in all cases, the behavior was either directly or indirectly condoned by the project managers of those individuals.
Just as it is expected that management must prescribe and support standards for best practice, it has always been expected that managers and project managers also prescribe and support ethical standards. As discussed by Berenbeim (1992), corporate ethics are one of the concerns of CEOs and they see the question of ethics as being integral to (a) the corporate mission, (b) constituency (client, employees , suppliers, etc.) relations, and (c) policies and practices.
In project groups it is critical that senior managers begin to address the question of ethical behavior. As suggested by Berenbeim (1992), they must ensure that the project group mission, constituency relations, best practices, and policies associated with system development and support, as well as human resource development, incorporate a clearly understood set of professional ethics.
This is even more important in general business and IT as, unlike medicine, actuarial studies and accounting, the basic tertiary and entry-level training offered by academic schools rarely provides entrants into the area with an opportunity to discuss the question of ethics. In other words, in general business it is the employer's responsibility to define the code of ethics, unlike in medicine, where the profession defines the ethical code and the teaching schools disseminate it to new members .
The development of an internal code of ethics for eXtreme project groups is essential as these groups move to form new relationships with their business clients. The code of ethics provides the foundation for establishing professional service relationships with clients ; the adoption of consistent and repeatable best practice in the critical areas of project management, cost management, and strategic planning; and the measurement of productivity, service levels, and quality.
More important, the development of an organizational code of ethics draws a clear line for individuals to understand and use as a basis for their own behavior. It is true that the existence of a clear line of ethical behavior has not prevented people in other professions from crossing it, but at least the individuals knew that they were crossing it.
For many project people, the line simply does not exist.