Management for Geeks – Secret Ingredients

In a previous Management for Geeks post, I talked about a  hypothetical relationship with John. This discussion actually surfaced the fact that I have a problem getting things done. I tell myself that I must do things, I know that these things are good but all I do is have good excuses.

How many times have you heard or told yourself:

“I must try pair-programming”
”I need to write more unit tests
”I have to get my team to be agile”

Secret Ingredients = Integrity

The Secret Ingredients to getting these done, to managing yourself and then others is: “Integrity”

I first heard about Personal imageIntegrity on a Radio show. The broadcasters where trying to pull a practical joke on a US Navy Officer. The broadcaster pretended to be an angry father who called an officer and complained that the officer told his son, who went for an interview, that he was useless and wouldn’t find a job anywhere. But the joke didn’t work, the officer kept on saying: "I would never say something like that". It ended with the broadcaster saying: This guy has an amazing integrity, he didn’t let us budge him.
This is when I thought to myself, I would like to have that.

So what is Integrity?

Although there are a few definitions, I like completeness. When something has technical integrity, it is complete, all the pieces work and fit together well.

When talking about Integrity in people I tend to see it as the completeness of our words:

Saying –> Intending -> Doing

We have 100% integrity when we say what we are going to do, we mean it and intend to do it and we actually do it.

This sounds simple but we tend to break our integrity all the time.
We can say something and not mean it. I used to say “I must stop smoking” but I never intended to do anything.
We might say something and intend to do it, but not do it.
e.g. I really want to stop smoking and I intend to do it, but just don’t do anything.
We can choose not say anything.
e.g. I won’t tell anyone that I want to stop smoking

Broken Integrity

Lets see where Johns integrity was broken. John said that we will meet on Wednesday at 10:00, but he never showed up.
So his integrity is broken, he didn’t do what he said that he would do. 
He might have just said it without meaning it, if he knew that he had to go to the hospital the next day.
He might have said it and meant it, but didn’t do it because something really came up, but them he should have phoned and changed the date: "Sorry that I won’t make it at 10:00, is 12:00 a good time".

Changing your intentions and saying so, is a valid way to stay in integrity, as long as you intend to do it.
Imagine if John would have phoned to delay the meeting, I would have known ahead of time, I would not have to wait, I could do some work in the mean time, I could tell him when (and if) we could meet again.

Stop hearing excuses

The trick of staying in Integrity is to:

1. Say and commit to actions that are in your control

2. As soon as you realize that you cannot do the actions, if something out of your control happens – recommit – tell the other parties about the new intentions

When you are in integrity there are no excuses, either you kept up to your word, or you changed your word and kept up to your word. In any case if you are in integrity, you kept up to your word and don’t need excuses.

Once I started being in Integrity, my excuses suddenly evaporated. I found that I used to spend a lot of my time making up excuses instead of actually working.

I also found out that the more people that I say what I intend to do, the harder it is for me to break my integrity.

3. Committing to others is very powerful.

  1. אלי שלום,
    כייף לראות איך אתה מיישם את כלי האינטגרטי בעצמך ועם המנהלים והעובדים שלך. כבר אמרצי לך לא פעם. אתה מאומן מספר 1 שלי. אתה הופך לאט לאט לחיית אינטגרטי.וכאן הרשי לי להזהיר אותך ממצבים דומים שראיתי אצל חיות אחרות. ככל שאני מטפס בסולם האינגרטי שלי, כלומר עושה הפרדה מוחלטת ביו מה שתלוי בי למה שלא, ואז מצהיר מתכוון ועושה. כך תוצאותי יהיו טובות יותר, אך הסובלנות שלי להתנהגותם של אחרים עלולה להפגע.

  2. Hi Moti,
    Moti is my coach. Its great to see that you are reading my blog 🙂
    Translation: Moti said that when you practice integrity and focus only on controllable tasks, you get better results. But you have to be careful, when you become better at this, you will lose your tolerance for other peoples behavior.

    I think that this is true, I don’t really have tolerance for people who say that they will do things and just disappear, I will have to be really careful about recognizing and handling these situations.

    This is a good topic for another post.

  3. Being an inspiring leader, with integrity, I think is part of what attract valuable employees.

    Also it’s funny you mention integrity and the Navy story – some of the best US software developers I’ve ever met are ex-military and Integrity is one of the core values of the military ingrained in us from day one. Maybe some of the other core values are part of the make-up of a good employee/developer too: (Google LDRSHIP)

  4. I’d say it’s the same basically; do what you say, say what you mean, don’t go back on your word, don’t hide the truth even if it hurts someone else or yourself, own up to your mistakes, don’t sugar coat things, be a man, etc.

  5. “But you have to be careful, when you become better at this, you will lose your tolerance for other peoples behavior.
    I think that this is true, I don’t really have tolerance for people who say that they will do things and just disappear, I will have to be really careful about recognizing and handling these situations.
    This is a good topic for another post.”

    I’m reading this because I’m dealing with a key employee who has very low integrity, as you use the word. And you’re saying terminate them. That has real business costs.

    Where do you draw the line?

  6. I am quiet strict about this. If the whole group has integrity and that employee is the bad apple and doesn’t deliver. The cost of not terminating that employee is greater, both for the employee who must be frustrated about not living up to his word and to you and the business that can’t get things done.

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  9. I think everything published was very reasonable.
    But, think on this, suppose you added a little content?
    I ain’t suggesting your content is not solid., but
    suppose you added a headline that makes people desire more?
    I mean Management for Geeks – Secret Ingredients Development and
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    You might try adding a video or a picture or two to get people excited about
    what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it might make your posts
    a little livelier.

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