A Definition of Integrity
Integrity is a word that gets thrown around often, but what does it really mean? After thinking about integrity, reading books about it, and discussing it with colleagues, we developed the following definition that encompasses the core elements of integrity:
- When you know your Personal Values and
- When you can express your Personal Values in writing [explaining how you think the think] and
- When you can talk with others and share your Personal Values [talk the talk] and
- When your actions are consistent with your Personal Values [walk the walk] and
- When you acknowledge your think-talk-walk errors and strive to not repeat them
…then you have Integrity.
This is not intended as static definition of integrity. It is a dynamic framework for ethical business and it serves as the foundation for another crucial aspect of human interaction: collaboration.
A Definition of Collaboration
Collaboration is the process of working together toward common goals. It implies an equitable sharing of responsibilities, mutual respect, and a commitment to achieving the collective objective. The effectiveness of collaboration depends on several factors, including communication, trust, and of crucial importance – integrity.
Integrity: The Heartbeat of Collaboration
In collaboration, integrity acts as the vital quality that helps establish trust and mutual respect. A person who embodies integrity is more likely to be honest, transparent, and consistent in their actions and statements. This makes it easier for people to rely on one another and fosters an environment where collaborative efforts can thrive.
Integrity is not a moral ornament. Integrity is an operational and interpersonal necessity.
Knowing that your collaborators are people of integrity minimizes friction and maximizes efficiency. This enhances communication and strengthens the decision outcomes from collective efforts.
Integrity: The Wisdom of R. Buckminster Fuller
Many years ago, I came across a recording of an ‘Integrity Days’ session led by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1983, just a few months before his death. “R. Buckminster Fuller, affectionately known to friends and admirers as ‘Bucky’, was an architect, systems theorist, author, and inventor. He had much to say about the subject of integrity. In one audio book, when asked to define integrity, he paused for 15 seconds and then said:
“I find I have to use the word courage due to the circumstances of humanity …the courage to cooperate or initiate based entirely on the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth as the divine mind within you tells you the truth is…it does require a courage and a self-disciplining.”
In Bucky’s view, integrity involves the courage to act based on complete truthfulness, both with oneself and others. This courage, according to Bucky, is not only vital for personal integrity but also for the success of cooperative endeavors.
It is Not Too Late: Integrity-Based Collaboration for a Sustainable Future
In a world rife with challenges that require collective action, the importance of integrity-based collaboration cannot be overstated. Under R. Buckminster Fuller’s wisdom, a sustainable future requires courage and collaboration based on a framework of integrity.
The blending of integrity and collaboration is not just aspirational; it is essential for addressing the complex, interwoven problems we face as a society.
By embodying integrity in our collaborative efforts, we open the door for more meaningful connections, innovative solutions, and a future that honours the collective over the individual. As we look toward tackling future challenges, let us prioritize initiatives that value and promote collaboration built on a bedrock of integrity.