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“I Hired You For Your Integrity, Now Lie To Me”

Small paper boat pulling a freighter

by Doug Boebinger, MS, PMP®

I have talked with a lot of Human Resource people over the years, and they all agree on one thing (actually, a few things, but I’m only focusing on one in this post).  They want to hire people who have integrity.  They want people who are honest and truthful. They do NOT want to hire liars. Period.

So, they hired you.  You have integrity.  If you see something wrong, your organization (“they”) want you to notify them immediately; raise your hand; yell at the top of your lungs.  If you see a quality issue, if you see a safety concern, if you see an illegal act, you are morally and ethically obligated to notify “them” immediately.  (We okay so far?)

Well, if this is that case, then why do They want you to lie to them about your project?  You know it will take six months to do it properly, so why do They want you to confirm their three-month (gu)estimate?  You know you will need additional people to make the design functional, so why do They want you to do it with the few people available (and the wrong people, at that)?  You know the current equipment won’t be sufficient, so why do They insist you use it anyway?

Good questions.

Yes, we do need to challenge the status quo so we do not become complacent in our efforts.

Yes, necessity is the mother of invention and, if we think long enough and hard enough, we may come up with a brilliant new way of doing the project (provided, of course, They give us the time to think long enough and hard enough).

Yes, the competitor will come out with theirs before we come out with ours if we don’t do it in the mandated time frame. (Did the competitor start before us?  Just askin’.)

These reasons have been given to me to explain why we must push our project teams to be faster.  I’m not arguing the point. My point is, there are certain laws of physics that cannot be broken.  There are certain finite time limits we must live with (26 hours in a day, eight days in a week, 55 weeks in a year, etc.).

True story (names have been eliminated to protect me).  Major Company received a contract to install new equipment in, let’s say, aircraft cockpits.  They signed the contract and handed the project to the (poor) project manager.  He quickly calculated the number of people needed to get the (let’s say) 16,800 person-hours of work done in the five-week time frame given to him.  It would take 20 people working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the 16,800 person-hours of work completed.  There weren’t 20 people on the team, much less 20 people qualified to do the work.  And, there is no way to put 20 people in a cockpit of a plane simultaneously.  Major Company didn’t want to listen to reason. The project is the project; just get it done.

Or, the project is to install a 25-foot-wide piece of equipment that has to get through a 20-foot-wide door opening in the building.

Or, the merchandise has to be shipped 2000 miles across country in 24 hours (which, by the way, is an average of 83 mph, “slightly” above legal speed limits, not to mention no time for potty breaks).

Why are we hired for our integrity and then told to “shut up and do it” when it just can’t be done?  Why do we try?  It will fail, time will be wasted playing the “blame game” (hope you documented it in an email to the right person), and then additional time, money, and resources will be used to make it right.

Why don’t They listen to the project team about how to do it right the first time with the right information based on the right facts and proven methodologies, etc., like we told you at the start of the project?  After all, you hired me for my integrity!(?)

Just my 2 cents worth (and, what ever happened to the cents symbol?)

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