Agility Case Study
The case study of the Agility EVM project, like all stories of projects that failed due to managerial incompetence and personal conflicts, has plenty of ethical and compliance issues to go along with it. As this is a complex case study with several key stakeholders involved, the responsibility for generating and escalating these issues is split among all stakeholders, depending on their position and circumstances. In this scenario, four stakeholders generate the majority of issues, whether those are compliance issues or ethical issues. These stakeholders are:
- Rebecca – the project manager
- Kerry – the functional manager
- Patrick – the government project manager and stakeholder representative
- Anastasia – ACME compliance officer
The majority of ethical and compliance issues in this scenario are associated with Rebecca. Her main fault is an ethical one – she does her best to supply what the customer (represented by Patrick) wants, but not what the government needs. Instead of working out the issues with the customer to ensure the end product meets their needs, she chooses to seek acceptance from Patrick and blindly follows his directions (Kliem 2011).
Her second ethical issue is related to her treatment of other members of the project, as she chose to keep Anastasia in the dark, removed Kerry from the project, and either refused to submit reports or provided falsified information to others. These actions were taken in the name of self-preservation rather than project excellence and are therefore are unethical. The main compliance issue in Rebecca’s actions was that she was willing to subvert ACME’s standards and regulations for those of EVM, which resulted in the program being faulty and providing inaccurate data.
Kerry’s only ethical issue in this scenario was going over her direct superior’s head to report to Anastasia. While this is not a direct violation of protocol, as it was done only when other options were exhausted, it led to trust issues between the project manager and the functional manager. As a result, Rebecca excluded Kerry from her chain of command, and Kerry started reporting to Anastasia instead of Rebecca.
Anastasia’s issue in this scenario was not reporting the results of Rebecca’s actions to the overarching ACME manager supervising the project team. This was done for the sake of project completion and her reputation rather than to benefit the customer or to provide a quality product. Rebecca’s actions warranted an intervention, which did not happen.
Patrick presents a compliance issue, as his main goal is to ensure that the project is delivered on time and by the government’s specifications. He is willing to subvert ACME regulations to do so. However, he does not have the knowledge or skill to understand which regulations are critical for the software’s proper performance and which ones are not. Since Rebecca is not offering him any resistance, he is free to set goals and expect their completion. He remains to a large extent personally disconnected from any issues that arise from that. Edward and Bob are the least involved stakeholders in this scenario. Their only issues are related to the functioning of the product, which they are dissatisfied with.
There are several key things that Anastasia, Rebecca, and Kerry should have done differently. Rebecca should have managed the project better from the start, maintained a balance between ethics and compliance, and involved Patrick in the process rather than blindly following his directions. Kerry should not have reported to Anastasia so often instead of her direct superior, as it caused a rift between managers and damaged the project. Anastasia should have blown the whistle on the project before the issues got out of hand.
If I were Rebecca at this point, I would have reinstated Kerry as a member of the team and worked in close cooperation with her and Anastasia to complete the project accordingly (Millage, 2012). If I were Anastasia, I would enforce ACME standards as the only means of providing accurate data to the customer, which is the purpose of the program in the first place. As Kerry, freshly abdicated from the position of the functional manager, I would have sought to undo the decision, as it was motivated by personal preference rather than an assessment of professional competence (Kerzner & Kerzner, 2017).
Stakeholder Theories and Walmart
Walmart is an interesting company in the way that it adheres to the normative stakeholder model while trying to present itself as following a descriptive stakeholder model. Walmart has been spending a lot of money to associate the company with its positive impacts on the surrounding environment and with the concepts that it represents (Walmart, n.d.). However, in reality, it follows a strictly normative stakeholder theory, which stands for putting stakeholders first (Hermes, 2017). Walmart’s primary stakeholders are investors, who are interested in expanding sales, decreasing costs, and obtaining higher profits (“Stakeholder analysis,” n.d.).
This is evident in their policies for dealing with smaller suppliers and cutting labor costs in any way they can to save money. The customers are Walmart’s secondary stakeholders, meaning that the company caters to their wishes in terms of prices and availability of merchandise. In the end, we have a company that caters to its customers and investors. This is a good formula for growth, which is evident in how fast Walmart was able to expand. However, its inability to grow beyond the borders of its natural monopoly shows the weaknesses of that strategy – pretending to be a values-driven company while remaining a profit-driven business makes the company look two-faced and damages its reputation (Foroohar, 2012).
Foroohar, R. (2012). Walmart’s discounted ethics. Time. Web.
Hermes, J. (2017). Walmart spends $141m on ethics & compliance systems, positions for increased shareholder returns. Environmental Leader. Web.
Kerzner, H., & Kerzner H. R. (2017). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. New York, NY: Wiley.
Kliem, R. L. (2011). Ethics and project management. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Millage, A. (2012). Ethics and the workplace. Internal Auditor, 2012, 7. Stakeholder analysis, project management, templates, and advice. (n.d.). Web.
Walmart. (n.d.). Ethics and Integrity. Web.