Without integrity, nothing works.
I view integrity not as something that is either good or bad, right or wrong, but rather as a state of being whole and complete that results in increased levels of workability.
Collaborating with the members of my course design team is a complex dance. Everyone is asked to give her or his word to timelines and project requirements. In the interest of workability, I request that all members keep their word and if they cannot keep their word, that they honour their word.
What does this look like?
- When I give my word I give it in the context of “I will make this happen”.
- However if it turns out that I cannot keep my word, I can always honour my word:
- As soon as I know that I will not be keeping my word, I inform the relevant parties.
- I give a new timeline, or say that I will not do it at all.
- I clean up the mess I created.
Please be aware that we human beings have a very strong need to be admired. You could say that we are wired to be admired. Being asked to honour our word if we cannot keep our word may feel like a threat to this need to look good. Thus, we may experience the sudden need to ignore the issue and cover up.
Please don’t surrender to this temptation. Instead, communicate with the relevant parties in a straight-up manner. I promise that there are no “repercussions” or “punishments” meted out. In fact, people who honour their word if they cannot keep their word, actually gain the admiration of others, rather than lose it. Counter intuitive, but true.
Bottom line: Operating from this model of integrity gives all of team members permission to hold each other accountable in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact way. No blame, no shame. Just workability.
For more background and much more depth on this new model of integrity, please read Michael C. Jensen‘s (Economist, Harvard) interview, “Integrity, Without It, Nothing Works” below.