Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An ethical dilemma: your thoughts?

The architecture firm for which my husband Guy works, Acme Architects, designed a building that is being built right now. The building is an MOB, or medical office building, which you often see around a hospital. They provide room for specialty or outpatient doctor's offices and clinics. In this Acme-designed MOB, the firm for which I work, Design Associates, is designing a fairly-complicated office. Something like an outpatient chemo suite or imaging or physical therapy or something; whatever it is, it's more than just putting in some walls and a few light fixtures. Just so we're clear: Acme designed the building, and DA is designing a suite inside the building.

A colleague of mine, Ingrid, is working with my usual boss Howie on this suite, and I heard them fuming recently. When I inquired what was up, they complained that getting information and getting questions answered was nearly impossible with Acme. I asked who they were working with on the project, and the names Ingrid gave me were of two people, two of Guy's colleagues, for whom I had great respect and was very surprised to hear. They have only ever struck me as conscientious people, conscientious architects, so like I said, I was surprised. I know that one of the people that Ingrid was working with is an intern who Guy has mentored some and she told me that she appreciated his mentorship. But still....

Here's my conundrum. Most of me says that this situation is none of my business. Everyone involved is an adult and this will work itself out, and even if it doesn't work itself out, the project will eventually end and everyone will leave each other alone. However, I hate the notion that Guy's firm is getting such a crappy reputation in my office. Are they getting that reputation in other offices? I also hate the idea that the people involved are getting slagged off. This is two sets of people I respect, you see. On an intellectual level, I want to know what the truth really is: how can four highly competent and professional people not get what they need? But it's entirely possible I'm taking all of this overly personal--not only did Guy used to work for DA and now works for Acme, but the manager for Acme on this project used to work at DA--he was the first guy to make associate under my big boss Alex.

So, the question is: do I have any reason or responsibility to say something to Guy--or anyone--about this situation? If I do, I'm inserting myself into a situation of which I'm not a part. On the other hand, I know how completely nonconfrontational DA is, and it annoys me to no end that all the "professional adults" I work are highly unlikely to say anything about this to Acme. So, what say you, my tens of failthful readers?


Jon said...

Does Guy read this blog? Just posting it here means you have already told him right?

There are always two stories to every story. Perhaps the shell owner has some requests/requirements that is preventing Acme from providing the required information in a timely manor. The people in your firm can only see the situation from one side, they don't know all of the circumstances.

I have witnessed times where people in my firm have been quick to judge another firm for perceived actions. In the spirit of competition it is good to an extent but when it gets personal it crosses the line.

Mile High Pixie said...

Jon: Oddly enough, Guy very rarely reads my blog, or so he says. I agree with you completely--there could be more than one reason why Acme isn't responding spot-on to DA. I'm curious what those reasons are. Perhaps I may have lunch with the intern gal from Acme and just ask a few general questions.

mizscarlett said...

I think that if it were reversed, Guy hearing his coworkers bitching about peeps he thought were good at your firm, you'd want to know?

Look, both firms know you are married, architecture being so incestuous...heh heh, you can take the girl out of Alabama....

So A casual, "dude, I heard Howie and Chick bitching and moaning about getting info from Other Chick in your company. Glad I'm not in that mess." And leave it at that. if Guy is interested, he will ask you more. If not (and being Male, I suspect he'll be more "huh. Have you seen the remote?") then that's really all you can/should/need to do.

Remember, because everyone knows who you're shackin' with, there is going to be an understanding of certain comments made - meanwhile, your reputations (both) have made it very clear that communication would never cross an ethical line like bid proposals and the like.

Did that make sense? I dunno. I think I lost my mind in a cardboard box somewhere....

faded said...

MHP some times you just need to watch it unfold. If there is a basic problem at Acme and you get involved you will get some tar stuck on you and be pulled into the problem.

If there is not a problem it will sort itself out. If you get involved you could mess up the process everyone is using to resolve the situation.

Sometimes being a spectator can be enjoyable.

Mile High Pixie said...

Scarlett and Faded, you both make good points. I think for now I'm going to let it ride, but if it continues I'll casually talk with the gal I know at Acme about "how are things going with DA?" as I'm quite curious about the other side of the issue.

Amy BB said...

I would talk with him about it. Mostly to see if there is something else going on, but it can't hurt to help facilitate the conversation between the two firms. You're not spilling anything ethically, you're trying to make the work go smoothly.

But I'm a nosy PIA and like to see things go well.

The question you have to ask is, will discussing it with el hubbo ultimately help or hurt the flow of information?

You can't help what people say about the reputation, but you can help that communication between the companies.