Integrated Integrity

Often, we think of integrity as a concept relating to someone’s character and integration as something relating to processes and systems. The reality, however, is that the two words are intertwined.

When we talk about a person having “integrity” we are saying that there is a consistency or “integration” between what they say and what they do. When they say they’ll be somewhere at 5p, they’ll be there at 5p. When they say they’ll have a project done by Thursday, it’s done. While we all may aspire to have integrity it can be difficult to actually deliver. In order to deliver on that aspiration, you have to intentionally plan and execute on that plan. If you need to be somewhere at a specific time, you have to make appropriate plans to ensure that you’ve accounted for variables and arrive at the appropriate time. Another way to say this is that you engineer the situation and influencing factors to create a desired and consistent outcome.

When we talk about a system or process using integration, we are talking about how that system or process connects with other systems or processes. You could say that your quoting system is integrated with your accounting system if quotes are able to easily pass from the quoting system to the accounting system without extra manual data entry. The reality is that we can have varying levels of integration. In the quoting example, you could have integration in that you use the same part numbers on quotes as you use in your accounting system. You could also go as far as to have a system that takes quotes, converts them to orders, drives procurement, generates invoices and connects to the accounting back-end. Both systems have integration, they just have it to differing degrees.

So, why does all of this matter? To us, we find that it is valuable to recognize that the two concepts are intertwined. We find that, when we aspire to be people of integrity while also building systems and processes that have integrity, the two aspirations rub off on each other. Our personal pursuit of integrity drives the processes and systems we develop so that we make sure they have appropriate stop-gaps, catch-alls, etc. Additionally, the systems and processes we develop help us build our own personal systems and processes to ensure that we make it to a meeting on time, remember an important dinner with our spouse or whatever else may come up.

Whether you are developing a process or just working to be better at following through on your commitments, maybe the concept that both integrity and integration are intertwined concepts will help you as it has helped us.

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Valuable Values

We all have things that are important to us but it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of everyday life and forget what’s important. We can either completely forget our values or, at the very least, end up making small compromises that end up getting us far off of our path. I struggle with this as well.

There are a number of great books, videos, etc. out there that talk about setting priorities, having values, staying focused, etc. To me, it seems that the key is that we need to boil our focus down to specific, core elements, and work to retain appropriate focus. We have to very clearly define what is valuable to us. EVERYTHING has to find its way back to that focus.

When our daughters were first born, my wife and I sat down and discussed what we desired for our daughters. This wasn’t about who they’d marry, what job they’d have, how they’d look, etc. It was about who they’d be, their character and the impact they’d have on the world around us. We focused on finishing the sentence of “I know your daughter, she’s…”, then we went on to fill in the blank. That fill is what we focused on and continue to focus on in our parenting. (Time will tell how successful we are at this.)

We do the same thing in our business. We look at what we want the business to be and do, then we focus on the actions that will accomplish those goals. EVERY action we take MUST answer back to those core, foundational values. For us, we focus on three core values of integrity, impact and growth. In the past, we had 5 – 10 different core values but found that it was too much to remember all of the time and, as we really spent time thinking about our values, we found that they all distilled down to the foundational values of integrity, impact and growth.

What are your core values? What’s most important to you? What are you doing, right now, to make sure that those core values are remaining your primary focus and that you aren’t getting caught up in things that are just pulling you away and distracting you from what really matters most?

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