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.