views on integrity

July 21, 2009 · Filed Under Theoretical Foundation · Comment 

The word integrity is abused; it is abused to such a degree and so pervasively that it is worth having a clear look at what is actually meant by it.

To keep this short, we won’t draw conclusions here, we will only resort to the presentation of facts in the context of organic organization, explaining the meaning of the word starting with the point of view of specialists, positioned at the bottom of organic organization, and finishing with that of the main integrator, positioned at the top of the organic organization. Not wanting to become overly philosophical, we will not elaborate on world views and only briefly present the following factors for consideration: will and role. As a general rule, it must be mentioned that the fundamental will of superior players in each role is to integrate up. To what degree they are ready to make compromises on this, determines their level of integrity; the less integrity the more deviations we can see in behavior and communications.

Before we continue we must emphasize, that organic organizations and business organizations are in almost polar opposition to each other, meaning that in business organizations the top of the perceived hierarchy is mostly occupied by specialists, unable to exert any kind of integration, and a so called “main integrator” is almost never present.

The function of specialists is performance. Integrity on this level means that the person actually does what he says he does. Being a specialist -just like the other three roles within an organic organization- is a mode of existence with a very specific world view, and corresponding thinking. The behaviour of specialists is conditioned; it has the least amount of freedom in comparison to the other three roles, it is the most dependent on circumstance. It’s easy to see that if the conditions are not favourable, meaning that the other roles are not purely present (and they are never purely present), to live up to the premise of “I do what I say and I say what I do” is almost impossible. So even on this lowest level, integrity is constantly compromised; and of course the more it is compromised, to more it is talked about. What specialists want, in addition to the chance to perform, is recognition and reward. In lack of a direct force of integration coming from “above” (from integrating specialists), the coveted recognition and reward becomes purely quantitative, in other words they completely get out of control.

The role of integrating specialists, in a business setting is to manage expectations. Not up, but down. Since the roles are never present in a pure form, reality is that they have to manage expectations both up and down. On this level integrity means (in addition to not lying) successfully representing groups and finding consensus. Integrating specialists want acknowledgment.

The role of the specialized integrators is only minimally connected to specialized functions. They are focused on so called vertical integration. Vertical integration is qualitative, based on principles. Simply put: principles are the cause of organic organization. What makes an organization mechanic is precisely the lack of principles: they can’t “emerge”, they must be created; so specialized integrators represent principles and this representation, this “presence” (of principles) is what ensures upward vertical integration. From another aspect: specialized integrators are trying to transform a mechanic organization to an organic one. Since it is obvious to everybody that this can’t be accomplished perfectly, the integrators role is comparable to that of a warrior.

Integrators do not make compromises on principles, because this would mean that they compromise themselves. We can only talk about near perfect integrity among integrators.