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Observing and Growing Your Integrity

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Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. How can we observe and discover improvements to ourselves?

“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”, said Arthur Conan Doyle. There is a difference between seeing and observing. Observing with intent can lead to great discoveries.

I have led or participated in hundreds of kaizen workshops. The first step in almost all of them is to observe the work. We would go to the location the work was being done, and spend time observing. It was much more than just watching. With practice and training, you can learn how to observe work. To observe a manufacturing operation, I start with blank paper and write down all the motions the worker made. It would include each movement in the smallest detail, such as the estimated distances for each reach with their hand, or each step with their foot.


© Flickr user kattekrab.

Depending on the cycle time of the process, observing and documenting the work could be done in minutes. If your observation was correct, then afterward you could recreate the motions without equipment or material. You could demonstrate the work in a conference room. This documented work became the baseline for improvement. Understanding the work unlocked the ability to discover improvements. It became possible to evaluate all-encompassing changes; evaluate combining and dividing the movements differently between different workers and evaluate the elimination of wasted movements. If you need a more practical process to improve yourself or a process, consider this post by Ashley Lee. In it, she describes how you can work toward a new plan.

It’s right there in the the name: process improvement is about embracing trends and new ideas. It’s about evaluating current systems and finding the areas of weakness. It’s about taking the time to rejuvenate through innovation and system integration. It’s about recognizing the need for change and then taking the necessary steps toward moving business forward fluidly, efficiently, and ultimately, successfully.

Observation is the key to discovery. We were trained to observe, and then we were trained to discover improvements. It sounds simple, but practice led to advanced skills. What could you observe today that could potentially lead to a great discovery? One character trait you could hone in on to observe and develop is integrity.

Integrity is reflected in the alignment of actions, words, and thoughts. Everyone, including those with strong integrity, struggles with this alignment. If you decide to be a person of integrity, nothing changes unless you can live those ideals. We encounter the conflict and challenges to our integrity throughout our life. Partly because life is full of decisions, and we do not know the outcome of making choices until they are made. And, of course, we all make mistakes.

We may consider George Washington, William Wilberforce or Mother Teresa as people with integrity, but they still faced difficult decisions and failures as often as you or I. It is certain that they viewed their own integrity differently than the rest of the world viewed it. We cannot know the depth of the internal struggles they faced. It is exactly for this reason that regardless of how others perceive our integrity, we must always be working to improve it. We should always check our alignment between our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We should always be grounded in our values. It is not something you can do just five days a week, or only on the weekend. It is a full-time commitment.

I find that as I have aged, living with integrity has become easier. No longer am I as easily swayed by the activities around me. I am much stronger in knowing my values, and I am not afraid to live them. I know I am strongest when I am who I am, no matter where I am, or who I am with. We all must continuously guard and grow our integrity. If not, we risk losing it.

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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