A business exists to deliver products or services to customers. By creating something that others value, organizations are delivering a solution that meets a need. To be successful, companies look for new ways to delight customers, improve quality, and innovate to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. When working with colleagues, clients, or corporations, remembering to deliver the solution with integrity is just as important as the solution itself.
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, integrity is, “the entire, unimpaired state of anything… a special reference to uprightness in mutual dealings…”. In other words, delivering solutions with integrity means that we do what we said we were going to do and that we serve as partners. This means that we deliver the product or service, provide our knowledge and expertise, and build a relationship while collaborating.
Delivering a product or service provides a solution that gives value to others. When we decide to understand the need of somebody else, we learn what needs to be done to help that person or organization. We can then begin to meet the other person’s need and thereafter exceed expectations. For example, if the client needs a new website, wants to create a mobile application, or identify process improvements for the manufacturing line, then creating and providing value should run throughout this entire process. By providing the product or service that others need, we can leverage our knowledge and expertise.
Knowledge and expertise are the accumulated set of things we can and things we can do. We gain knowledge and expertise over time, through past work, and by learning from others. The purpose of knowledge and expertise is not to serve ourselves; rather, knowledge and expertise exist to serve others. By serving others, the value is created. Short-sightedness should not dominate this thinking, though—it is a mistake to assume that serving others does not help one’s self. For example, when we delivering a product or service with our knowledge and expertise, we are given the opportunity to exercise what we can do, show others how to do it, and add more overall value to the solution. The same can be said about what we do not know or cannot do. If we are tasked with providing a solution, then it is equally our duty to find the answer or help others find the answer. The execution of knowledge and expertise is not a solo act; building solutions means that we partner with others throughout the relationship.
Partnering with others is crucial to delivering solutions that add value. This does not mean that we reluctantly work together, talk behind each other’s backs, manipulate conversations, or throw each other under the bus. On the contrary, partnering together means that we operate with trust and transparency with one another. There should be clarity and honesty in conversations with a real sense of mutual respect. Moreover, partnering means that we have a shared goal to communicate well and have a win-win relationship. By actively choosing to have two winners instead of a winner and a loser, both parties can go farther and create more value. There will be hiccups and frustrations, though. Certainly, there will be hurt feelings, frustrations, and fits of despair between one another. Relationships are the foundation of every solution because solutions are supposed to solve the needs of people. By being a good relationship-builder and relationship-maintainer, more effect solutions will be delivered.
Building solutions and delivering them with integrity is like the software craftsmanship movement that began in the early 1990s. The initial essay, “What Is Software Design?” by Jack Reeves in 1992 suggested that software development is more of a craft than an engineering discipline. In 1999, “The Pragmatic Programmer” was written by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, and suggested that software developers go through stages of professional development like the medieval guild traditions of Europe. This book emphasized being an early and fast adopter, being inquisitive, being a critical thinker and realistic, and having a broad set of skills. Later, the book, “Software Craftsmanship” was published in 2001 by Pete McBreen. The Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship was drafted in 2008 and exemplified the values needed to deliver solutions with integrity.
We are all in the business of delivering solutions in one fashion or another. Despite our role, project, or tenure, we ought to understand what a solution is, what a solution is not, and how to deliver a solution well. By delivering solutions more effectively, we can better understand the big picture and purpose of a solution, and learn to focus on the people and the relationships within the solution, not just the technology. Every day brings opportunities for providing solutions for other people. Sometimes that solution looks like a big proposal for a client, while other times that solution might be building a bridge between two clashing departments. Either way, we should deliver solutions with integrity so that we meet the needs of others and create value for others.