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"I suspect that most ethical lapses emerge as sins of omission …"

Whenever I ask a 'project' worker about their philosophy of 'project' work, I almost always receive a long stare in reply. A few, like me, might fumble for our little laminated card which holds our intentions in the odd chance that they might be of some practical use, but most, if they've even thought about their personal philosophy of 'project' work will offer no crisp response. Some might offer a variant on The Golden or the Platinum Rules, do unto others as you'd like to be done unto or do unto others as they wish to be done unto, but little practical light will shine from beneath their bushel baskets.

I'll quick draw my Seven Ethical Responsibilities of 'Project' Work, an explication I developed with considerable effort.
These emerged after my best selling book The Blind Men and the Elephant had been published and my publicist, as publicists do, asked me to explain what the book was about. I discovered that I could not crisply respond to her question, for I'd written the book as more of a prompt than an explanation. It more asked questions than offered answers. I wanted the reader to decide for him/her self how to engage in their work, yet I realized that the book had not prompted me to settle upon any definite philosophy to inform my own practice, so I went to work. I figured that my enquiry should not focus upon my 'project' morality since there seemed to be plenty of secular and religious Thou Shalt Rules already on the books and actively enforced. I was missing more of an ethical foundation, a set declaiming my I Will Intentions, not as imperatives so much as choices. I decided that I could always choose within a situation not to invoke any one of my ethical responsibilities and that they should exist to remind me that I do always have choices, understanding that if I decide not to employ one of them, I assume responsibility for the effects of my deliberate omission.

I suspect that most ethical lapses emerge as sins of omission, stuff forgotten in the rush and fumble of engagement. Later, one might ask how they could have lapsed so egregiously, only to receive some dissembling brain fart excuse. I felt the need to hold a set of principles intended to more mindfully guide my engagements, which is exactly how I think of a philosophy of 'project' work: a crib sheet reminding me of my better intentions. I can bore the boobs off of anybody asking after my philosophy of 'project' work, for I think of myself as a 'Project' PhD, a doctor of (my) philosophy of 'project' work. I don't share this list as a template of what your philosophy should be, for that would render the list into Thou Shalt Rules, a moralistic mumble inhibiting choice rather than an ethical philosophy encouraging it.

That said, here's MY list:

I have the ethical responsibility to:

1- Acknowledge My Blindness and Yours
2- Pursue with Personal Purpose
3- Extend Trust
4- Make The Most Generous Interpretations
5- Work The System
6- Sit With The Mess
7- Make Informed Choices

Of course I have pages of supplemental explanation supporting each responsibility, but for me, the mere presence of each headline serves as adequate reminder of what I intend to be up to when I engage in 'project' work. Ramifications explode from these shorthand reminders. As I introduced in my
Someone Else's Dream posting, while I sort of shun the necessity of a common 'project' purpose, I firmly believe, as a matter of personal ethical responsibility, that both the 'project' and I are better off when I engage with a personal purpose for being there, though, a perspective The Muse reminded me of after she read that piece. I can use this list as a diagnostic checklist when I feel unsettled in my assignment. Have I lost touch with my personal purpose for being there, perhaps having replaced it with some supposedly loftier collective purpose? If so, I might gain a clue about why I suddenly seem to have gone so clueless.

I will explain further over the next seven or so postings how I use my 'Project' PhD. I hope that my explanation might encourage you to consider conjuring up one for yourself, too. As a reluctant BriefConsultant®, I use my Seven Ethical Responsibilities to help me consider what might be missing when I'm asked to review some misbegotten 'project.' I can usually quickly identify at least a couple of prominent ethical lapses, choices made without the awareness that any choices were being made. A brief reminder usually results in the 'project' finding its legs again.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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