the Project Management Institute

Business Ethics & the Hovercraft Debacle (graded)
This week, we looked at two more ethical codes—one for the Project Management Institute, and one for Engineers.

(Find links to these professional codes in the Week 7 Assignment tab along with the Week 7 readings.)
You can see that both of them are much simpler than the Legal code we looked at last week, and even simpler than the Medical code of ethics. Appropriate professional behavior, practice, and discipline varies among professions and reflects the needs and values of the professional society in question.

Let’s then assume professional roles as we work on this fictional scenario:

It’s 2020, and General Foryota Company opens a plant in which to build a new mass-produced hover-craft. This hover-craft will work using E-85 Ethanol, will travel up to 200 mph, and will reduce pollution worldwide at a rate of 10 percent per year. It is likely that when all automobiles in the industrial world have been changed over to hovercrafts, emission of greenhouse gasses may be so reduced that global warming may end and air quality will become completely refreshed.
However, the downside is that during the transition time, GFC’s Hover-Vee (only available in red or black), will most likely put all transportation as we know it in major dissaray. Roadways will no longer be necessary, but new methods of controlling traffic will be required. Further, while the old version of cars are still being used, Hover-vee’s will cause accidents, parking issues, and most likely class envy and warfare. The sticker price on the first two models will be about four times that of the average SUV (to about $200,000.) Even so, GFC’s marketing futurists have let them know that they will be able to pre-sell their first three years of expected production, with a potential waiting list which will take between 15 and 20 years to fill.
The Chief Engineer of GFC commissions a study on potential liabilities for the Hover-vees. The preliminary result is that Hover-vees will likely kill or maim humans at an increased rate of double to triple over automobile travel because of collisions and crashes at high speeds — projected annual death rates of 100,000 to 200,000. However, global warming will end, and the environment will flourish.
The U. S. Government gets wind of the plans. Congress begins to discuss the rules on who can own and operate Hover-vees. GFC’s stock skyrockets. The Chief Engineer takes the results of the study to the Chief Legal Counsel, and together they agree to bury the study, going forward with the production plans. The Chief Project Manager, who has read the study and agreed to bury it, goes ahead and plans out the project for the company, with target dates and production deadlines.
Our class is a team of young lawyers, project managers, engineers, and congressional aides who are all part of the process of helping get this project off the ground. In fact, according to the first letter of your last name, you are the following team:
A-G: Attorney on the GFC team

H-N: Project Manager on the GFC team

0-S: Engineer on the GFC team

T-Z: Congressional Aide
Somebody sent a secret copy of the report to you at your home address. It has no information in it at all, except for the report showing the proof of the increase in accidents and deaths. The report shows, on its face, that the CLO, CE, CPM, and your Congressional Representative have seen copies of this report. On the front there are these words typed in red:They knew—they buried this. Please save the world!
Each of you feel a very loyal tie to your boss and your company/country. You all have mortgages, and families to feed. It is likely if you blow the whistle on this report, you will lose your job and your livelihood. You’re not even sure who wrote the study in your envelope or who actually sent it to you.
Now to the task at hand:

Utilizing your profession’s code of ethics, what would be your first step? Who would you talk to first? Would you go to the press? Would you go to your boss? Should you do anything at all?

Assemble and Test Your Personal Ethics Statement (graded)
Please be sure to read the Week Seven Lecture in its entirety before posting to this discussion.

This week we will work on creating your own statement of personal ethics.

To get started, read summarizing review of our great and famous ethics and what they have taught us — found in our lecture this week.
Then, let’s work on creating one for you.
Your goal for the end of this thread is to have created a personal ethical philosophy and be able to tell your classmates from which philosophies you created it and why the contents are important and meaningful for you. List its precepts. (You will need to do this on the Final Exam.)

After you have assembled and posted your personal ethics statement, responded to what others may have said to you and thought about what you have posted to others, then take your statement and use it to work through the famous case of the Ring of Gyges.
One of the great examples of ethics and morals in all of literature comes from Plato who wrote about the Ring of Gyges in

The Republic, Book II, starting at paragraph 359a.

For those who wish to read the whole story, it is in the Doc Sharing tab and here is a link to the story — Ring of Gyges.
The story goes that Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the King. In a most unusual circumstance he came upon a dead man, removed the man’s ring, and discovered that it made him invisible. He conspired to take the periodic report of the shepherds to the King — once there he seduced the Queen and eventually took control of the Kingdom by conspiring with the Queen. Plato continues the story:
“Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right.”
This story raises up the question of what sanctions prevent people from just taking any liberties they are inclined to take.

The whole subject of ethics, seen in large scale, is that of accepting and living under moral standards.
1. Using YOUR personal ethical statement that you have created, what would you do if you had that second ring?

2. What else within this course helps in responding to this fictitious situation or in explaining it?

3. Respond to your classmates’ posts. Are they holding true to their own personal ethical philosophies in their resolutions of this dilemma?
Pick one or more of the above, and post below!

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