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8lightminutesaway's avatar

Ethics and responsabilities of working on a team?

Asked by 8lightminutesaway (1413points) June 28th, 2008

I’m working on a project with a bunch of architects, engineers, and many other people. Now for my teams section of the project (electricity generation), we came up with several ideas of what would work out and I have to present them to the architects. One idea that my team mate came up with, I don’t like, because it would cut the amount of electricity generated, but I know that the architects will love it. My question is, is it ethical to not inform the architects of this other way of doing it? Should all the options be laid out on the table? I mean, I don’t want them to choose it, but if I don’t tell anyone, its like me saying my opinion is more valuable than the rest of the people on the project. What does fluther suggest?

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10 Answers

squirbel's avatar

I believe in this situation you should be upfront with your teammate – and let him know that it is best to present both ideas. In this way, the larger team [collective] can decide which option is best suited to the project as a whole.

jlm11f's avatar

If you and your team mates are on the same level, and you have been chosen to present just because of a vote instead of you being on a higher seniority level, then no, you don’t have to present the other guy’s idea. I am getting the feeling that this is not the case though. I think you should present the idea to the architects but also tell them why you are against it and point out its pro and cons. I am always for providing people with as many options as you can and your teammate will respect you for presenting his/her idea even when you didn’t agree with it. So IMO, I think you are responsible for giving them all options, ethically speaking there isn’t a real “right” or “wrong”.

marinelife's avatar

It depends on how the project and the team are structured.

If your part of the team is tasked with determining the best option, and the architects are tasked with designing that option, that is one thing. In that case, your group should agree on which option or options to present to the architects. Unless you have been given veto power, you should not close off the other option from at least your other team members tasked with the decision.

If, however, you are supposed to come up with a range of options, and the architects or another section of the team is to make the decision on which option is best, then you have no right to close off the other team member’s option. You could be wrong, you could be overlooking an off-setting factor.

As PnL said, by having presentation duty, you can certainly feature your preferred option and provide objections to the other option, but be careful, the other members of your section could be present and object.

jlm11f's avatar

I just reread my answer. Stupid stupid stupid. Let me rephrase. Original sentence : “If you and your team mates are on the same level, and you have been chosen to present just because of a vote instead of you being on a higher seniority level, then no, you don’t have to present the other guy’s idea.”

Rephrased version: I meant that if you have greater seniority than your other team members, then it’s up to you for what options to present. But If you are on the same level as others and they just decided that you can present, then you should provide all options.

Sorry about the confusion. This is why run on sentences are a no-no.

wildflower's avatar

I think it’s time for the old favorite: think outside the box! If you know this suggestion will have appeal and is likely to be a success – why not branch out on your part, like instead of you relying solely on electricity generation, why not look in to the level of quality of the electricity generated. This way you may be able to play an equally important part of the project implementation (and maintain good prospects of earnings, I’m sure) if they select this option rather than one of the options that include more electricity generation

8lightminutesaway's avatar

I am the leader of the electrical generation team, but the idea was given to me by the engineering lead, which is senior to me. we both agreed the idea is not as good as the others. Both of us will be presenting tomorrow, but I was thinking of telling her beforehand not to bring up the bad idea because the architects will love it. we have some problems with our architects… they only understand whats aesthetically pleasing and don’t really consider the rest most of the time. So I’m pretty sure they’ll go for the bad idea, even though I’ll tell them not too. However, according to the rest of the team, the design to choose for the electricity generation is mostly, if not all my decision, but the architecture lead probably doesn’t think so.. I’m just not sure what to do, but thank you for your responses, they are helpful.

wildflower's avatar

OK. If both yourself and the engineering lead do not favor this option, I don’t see why you would suggest it. I imagine you’ve been hired for your expertise to give recommendations that you believe to be the way forward – this option does not sound like it’s one you’d recommend.

mdy's avatar

You said: One idea that my team mate came up with, I don’t like, because it would cut the amount of electricity generated, but I know that the architects will love it. My question is, is it ethical to not inform the architects of this other way of doing it?

The answer to your question depends on who the ultimate client of the project is. For example, is there an external client who is not part of the team who is setting the priorities for the team? If yes, then I feel your client should be the one to decide. If they haven’t articulated their requirements clearly enough at this point, then the project manager or someone in a similar role will need to ask them.

I say this because it’s entirely possible that the objectives of the project can be met even if the amount of electricity generated is lower than what you’d like. Meaning, it’s possible that even with less electricity, the project as a whole is still considered a success because it met the stated objectives of the project.

To put it another way, the question sounds very much like a case of Local Optimization vs. Global Optimization. Meaning, you are choosing local optimization by prioritizing your subteam’s ability to generate electricity, at the expense of eliminating some options for the other subteams, and therefore eliminating options for the project (global) as a whole.

Now it would be a different story altogether if the idea that you don’t like will reduce the electrical generation so severely as to render the entire project a failure. If that’s the case, then by all means you should not even mention the idea because it is not a viable suggestion.

But if the overall project objective can still be met even with reduced electrical generation, then I think it’s only right to present the option, but you also have an obligation to make it clear to everyone what the implication is—so that the client (and the team as a whole) understands the implications, and can make an informed decision.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

Thanks guys, your responses really helped. I ended showing it to the architects and explained why it wasn’t something we wanted. overall it went pretty well and they listened. Thanks again guys, I appreciate your perspectives, it helped me get a better view of my role in the project.

jlm11f's avatar

@ 8lightminutesaway: way to go!!

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