Saturday, January 17, 2015

Integrity is free... or should be!

In an essay recently published, Elizabeth Doty, in a take-off on Phillip Crosby's "Quality is Free" idea, as told in his 1979 book of the same title, tells us:
Integrity—or lack thereof—remains a critical challenge for companies today. Whether it involves promising a client that our software will work in their setting, adhering to investment guidelines with people’s retirement savings, or performing the correct medical procedure, we owe it to our customers, employees, shareholders, and the world at large to be responsible about what we commit to and what we deliver.

Now we are not given in real evidence of the criticality of this challenge -- we are pretty much left to think of our own experience -- but it's suggested that there is a "commitment drift" that may have settled in.

There seem to be two elements to the drift idea:
  1. We're really not committed, so the integrity of promises made is more of a fair weather thing... if things go well, you get what you expect, but if there's trouble, the commitment may be lacking, or worse: corners are cut to give the facade or impression of integrity
  2. We're committed but we've over-committed, so the integrity of the promise is more of Ponzi scheme
The remedy for this drift seems to be the well known formula: under promise, over deliver. To put this to action for PMs we do these things -- which, by the way, are "free", only to cost something if not addressed up front:
  1. Do not accept single point estimates for anything, because that means no serious thought has gone into the downside
  2. Do not schedule without buffers or slack, because no plan survives actual performance
  3. Do not not plan: that's just stupid to start off with only a hope and no real plan
  4. Do not expect performance to emerge where it's not even promised -- example: miracle occurs here!
  5. Do speak truth to power; eventually you are going to have to face them, so earlier is better; later will clearly get you a demerit
  6. Do walk away if your personal integrity is challenged... your reputation is leverage: don't give it away

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