Thursday, March 19, 2009

Management’s Biggest Problem Today

What is the most common way to bring ruin to a project, a business (Enron, Bernie Madoff’s Ascot Partners), a nation? What, since the beginning of human history, has brought on self-destruction?

Lack of personal integrity.

Every major religion and many historical figures comment on maintaining personal integrity.
  • Christianity - The Lord abhors dishonest scales
  • Judaism – Thou shalt not bear false witness
  • Islam - Thou shalt not raise a false report
  • Buddhism -I will honor honesty and truth, I will not deceive
  • William Shakespeare -- No legacy is so rich as honesty
  • Ben Franklin – Honesty is the best policy
  • Thomas Jefferson -- Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom
  • Your mother – _______ (fill in the blank)
No matter where I go in the business world, I am a witness to lying, deceit or both. How often have you seen some one lie to buy time? How often has a lie only deferred the pain? How many unnecessary lies have you witnessed?

I have never found a lying leadership to be inspiring. Personally, it is difficult for me to work with those who lie so easily. Timothy Barry, in Project Smart, lists integrity as one of the top qualities of being a project manager.

And what is the rationale given for a lie in the business world? It is the way businesses work. Everybody does it. How about the comment, “If we don’t lie, another company is just going to lie and win the work?”

Are we to just accept it? How are we to protect ourselves, our projects, and our business?

Management’s biggest problem today is that of all times -- To deceive others, or oneself.


  1. I agree with your analysis, which is sad. Personally I value honesty much in business but I constantly find it hard to find the same approach around.

    I never looked at the situation thinking how to change it, but rather considering how to keep my standards and not affect business negatively. It's not that hard as one can think. The interesting thing I learned is that often people prefer to hear the truth but in a way that sounds soft. The form matters much.

  2. Do you ever ask your team what their ethics are? What behaviour would make them uncomfortable?

    I agree with you. Ethics are a critical part of your personal career, including when dealing with your team.