I was recently sent a finance textbook which appeared to contain the ideas of Landmark Education in its text as applied to growing wealth in a business. Although Landmark isn’t mentioned by name, the book’s discussion of integrity had to have come from Landmark’s ideas, as anyone who reads it would attest. It points out to how mainstream these supposedly radical, new-age ideas have become.
Specifically, it looks at integrity in terms of workability, and how a lack of integrity within a business organisation invariably affects its performance negatively. Here’s a brief excerpt:
“…integrity is required in order to gain workability and the trust of others that in turn opens up the opportunity for high performance. In other words, the absence of integrity relegates the firm to no better than average long term peformance.”
That integrity matters is obviously not a revolutionary idea – what’s specific to Landmark here in my view is the idea of viewing integrity solely through the lens of workability and performance, rather than as a moral issue.
This can be quite controversial with some people, who thinks this view abandons moral responsibility, but I think the opposite is actually true. Moral responsibility is obviously important, but by focusing on performance, it allows the costs of a lack of integrity come into focus, which go beyond moral fault. Let’s face it, many businesses unfortunately don’t care about moral responsibility, but if they saw that their lack of integrity was actually impacting their bottom line – this would move them into action faster than any moral argument probably ever would.
To make this point, the author, Bartley Madden, gives the fascinating example of IBM developing personal computers. The best technologies all existed with IBM for making personal computers; however, there was a lack of integrity and trust within the company that had different departments not trust each other to deliver on various aspects of a product. As a result, IBM’s personal computer group farmed out two aspects of their computers – the operating system and the microchip – to Microsoft and Intel. In so doing, they gave away perhaps the two biggest business opportunities of the last fifty years – all because of a lack of integrity. A company may not think of “workplace culture” as essential to the bottom line – examples like this prove how erroneous this view can be.
Note that integrity here again is workability issue, not a moral one – there may not have been any moral issues at IBM, but the lack of trust and communication between departments lacked structural integrity as far as the company went. And it obviously paid dearly.
Anyhow, I’m not expert, but it seems a very interesting book to me – it gives many more examples of how a company’s integrity impacts the bottom line – here’s the Amazon page for Wealth Creation.