On the War on Ethics



By Thomas Walenta

Frankfurt Area, Germany

Date: 12 December 2021

Ref: The editorial in the December 2021 issue – Pells, D.L. (2021). Anti-Leadership revisited, the War on Ethics and Welcome to the December 2021 PMWJ; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/pmwj112-Dec2021-Pells-welcome-to-the-December-2021-pmwj2.pdf

Dear David,

Having met you more than 20 years ago and having read your many great op-eds in PMWJ, I was touched and compelled to reflect on your perspective on the war on ethics or as you called it the Anti-Leadership. While I feel the same unfairness, dishonesty and worry about the state of PM, I tend to take different perspectives on the issue. In a nutshell, I rather see project management as a neutral tool, not linked to morals.

First, I think project management can be seen as a tool or a set of capabilities which is used for good and bad purposes. It produces benefits and dis-benefits, sometimes in parallel to different recipients. Some staff lose their job due to a restructuring project and others find new opportunities, a war project kills many people and enriches others like mercenaries or ammunition makers. Even generally regarded evil projects like 9/11 or the holocaust used project management practices and benefited some people. And what about the professionally crafted project to make abortion illegal in US and Texas?

Keeping moral judgements out of project management as a professional craftmanship is mandatory to acknowledge new ways of working and expanding the body of knowledge.

It is different to me when humans get involved, if we talk about professionals, certifications, and a specific project that uses project management. Ethics are based on human values, which are almost the same everywhere in the world. We all feel that

Fairness, respect, community, honesty, freedom, community, humility, compassion

are good and violations of these values trigger bad feelings like anger, hate and even violence. The late Rushworth Kidder published these 8 ubiquitous human values that developed through evolution in his book ‘Morale Courage’ (and 4 of them are the base for PMI’s Code of Ethics, by chance)…


To read entire Letter to the Editor, click here

How to cite this work: Walenta, T. (2021). On the War on Ethics, Letter to the Editor, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/pmwj113-Jan2022-Walenta-on-the-war-on-ethics-Letter-to-Editor.pdf