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No Matter the Euphemism

By Rebecca Winston, JD, PMI Fellow

Idaho, USA


First, I must state that the blogosphere is alive with concepts and ideas that stimulate thinking as well as emotion in the field of project management.  This opinion piece is about one such blog that caused me to think, to be dismayed, and to be frustrated.  The topic under consideration was whether it is ever appropriate to “sandbag”.  The example given dealt with completion of an activity.

Finding euphemisms a fascinating language phenomenon, I read items posted and added my own short note in part due to my frustration about the state of the profession or tool set depending upon your view of that topic.

Before I proceed, I must commend the party posting the original query.  The posted query was obviously thought provoking and continues to be.  The posting achieved not only stimulating discussion on the right and wrong of “sandbagging”, but it also stimulated passions including fear.

To set the stage and to stand by my own opinion, which I posted, I should state that I responded,

“Sandbag” implies a deliberate misleading act to me. If I as a PM feel a task is potentially incomplete and the information is contrary to what is reported from the field, I have a duty to investigate and report that the completion of the task is pending confirmation.

Occasionally I have been placed in a situation where the interfaces were unclear for the initiation of the dependent task. Again, reporting it as incomplete but reporting that completion status is dependent upon verification of the completion of activities that initiate the dependent task is what is appropriate.

I have seen the reporting of completion when it has not been achieved to keep a stop light chart green. The risks of doing such outweigh the slight of hand or sandbagging. Each industry sector is a small world and the word will get around about how a PM is reporting and honesty of said PM.

More…

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About the Author

REBECCA WINSTON, JD

Former Vice-Chair, Chair, Fellow – PMI®

P/PM Consultant to US Government

Idaho Falls, ID, USA

Rebecca (Becky) Winston, Esq., JD, PMI Fellow, is a former Chair of the board of the Project Management Institute (PMI®). An experienced expert on the subject of project management (PM) in the fields of research & development (R&D), energy, environmental restoration and national security, she is well known throughout the United States and globally as a leader in the PM professional world.  Rebecca has over 25 years of experience in program and project management, primarily on programs funded by the US government.  She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska’s College of Law, Juris Doctorate (1980), in Lincoln, Nebraska and has a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree in Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University She is a licensed attorney in the states of Iowa and Nebraska, USA. Active in PMI since 1993, Rebecca Winston helped pioneer PMI’s Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) in the nineties, including the Project Earth and Government SIGs, and was a founder and first co-chair of the Women in Project Management SIG. She served two terms on the PMI board of directors as director at large, Secretary Treasurer, Vice Chair (for two years), and Chair (2002). She was elected a PMI Fellow in 2005.  She is also a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of Female Executives in the United States.   Ms. Winston periodically serves as an advisor to organizations such as the National Nuclear Security Administration (USA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on topics ranging from Program and Project Management to project reviews, risk management and vulnerability assessments. She has extensive recent PM experience in the areas of alternative energy, national defense and security, and has worked closely with local, regional and national officials, including Congress and the Pentagon.  Becky can be contacted at rebe[email protected].