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Design Integrity
Out With The Old, In With The New
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Twitter Highlights
I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

Is smiling an antodote for stress? Research says "yes." -

Key for innovation: create a safe space so provocative questions can surface -

For innovation, don't be wed to your operating plan, and create spaces so your culture encourages provocative questions -

The next frontier is inside your brain -

3 imperatives for service innovation - - Yes, there's a big difference betwen geting it right and getting it almost right.

7 Ways New Managers Can Shine -

The research on complaining, and difference between authentic and inauthentic complaining -

"Begin with the end in mind." (Lana Rigsby) -

To envision what will be, you must remove yourself from the constant concern for what already is. (Scott Belsky)

Design is the application of intent - the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident. (Robert L. Peters) -

Just like people. there is "good smart" and "bad smart" technology -

In business and personal relationships, don't over-disclose or under-disclose: -

Authentic communication improves health outcomes too! Lies That Patients Tell Doctors -

Authenticity and more effective strategies for communicating CSR without "greenwashing" -

From "ROWE" to "all hands on deck" at Best Buy - 'Love those nautical abalogies for righting a ship!

It's about the energy, not time, that we bring to work - Recommend The Pause Principle at

"Are You Hard-Wired to Boil Over From Stress?" -

Transparency spurs innovation and strategic advantage -

"An effective human being is a whole greater than the sum of it's parts." (Ida P. Rolf) - from inTEgro quotes treasury:

Checck out Feb's Fast Company: The Art of Dialog and "10 Conversations That Changed he World" -

Families can learn some things from business, but business can learn some from family too - like love and loyalty:

Investor trust will rise with authenticity, including authentic, or real, financial reports -

But isolating ethics from mainstream bus classes would be better preparation for isolating it from mainstream business -

Justice Dept finally seeking some accountability from S&P over role in the housing meltdown.

Don't make decisions because they are easy, cheap or popular; make them because they are right. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh

The end is not nigh for colleges -

Double-loop learning - challenging our beliefs and summoning the courage to act - is the secret to success:

Do you know what your 401K is doing today? Does your gun control philosophy match your investments?

"To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day." -

'Sorry Gen X, Y and Zers; we'll be around for a while! "Americans Rip Up Retirement Plans" -

"A bag full of money is stronger than to bags of truth." (Danish saying)

How Intelligent Constraints Drive Creativity -
@HarvardBiz See my comment.

Yeah - Minnesota = 23 of USA top 150 places to work:

The upsides (and some downsides) of completely transparent organizations -

Shumpeter on Davos: Global leadership is in need of reengineering -

Futurists are back! Their role in strategic planning -

Leadership lessons from the Royal Navy -
If you missed it, below is a copy of my last blog: Design Integrity. The introduction to January's article, Out With The Old, In With The New, follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest at the bottom of this newsletter to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.
Design Integrity

"Design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all." (Douglas Martin)  


I recently had the opportunity to participate in an  excellent webinar about Service Design by John Wooden and J Hruby of Fredrickson Communications. Many of the principles that were shared for designing excellent service experiences correspond with my work positioning integrity as a practical strategy for organizations:


Use a whole perspective. John Wooden, Fredrickson's Director of Usability Services, discussed the importance of designing service experiences with not just customers and service users, but those who deliver the service, in mind. If processes are easy for one group but not the other, outcomes will be less than optimal and likely even fail. Similarly, if a process has a slick front door via a website or application, but is really just a digitized version of a process that is outdated or otherwise inefficient, there's only so much that can be done to make the experience a good one.


The best product, service experience and organizational designs appeal to us physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, or artistically - to the whole person. Apple product success is due not only to functional excellence, but to artful design and its "coolness" factor. If we must wait in line for a service transaction, an experience that is appealing - or at least not unpleasant emotionally and aesthetically is preferable.


Merriam Webster's definitions for "integrity" include being "whole", or "complete." Those are important characteristics of not only design integrity, but of leadership and organizational effectiveness. How many times have organizations or leaders missed the mark because they neglected to adopt a "whole" perspective? Examples include neglecting key stakeholders, overlooking or discounting contrary opinions or missing critical market signals.


Form follows function. Whether designing a product, service experience or organizational structure, first be clear about intended use and outcomes. What purpose or purposes do we want a product, organization or service experience to serve? When embarking on a service redesign, it's important to keep the ends in mind; likely they are some combination of improving user or provider satisfaction, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.


A large part of architectural integrity is whether a design suits intended purposes for a building or office. Likewise, an organizational structure or chart reflects integrity when it serves intended purposes. An early critical step when I help clients consider organizational structure changes is to thoroughly articulate what the structural changes should accomplish. Alternative structures can then be evaluated against those desired goals. Using intended purposes or outcomes as design criteria will guide creative thinking into the most productive channels and contribute to design integrity


Think alignment. A great product design and experience can be either reinforced or not reinforced by a service design and experience. Together, they determine perceptions of how a brand fulfills its promise. For example, my perception of an automobile brand is determined by not only the vehicle itself, but by how it is serviced by the dealer. The quality of that experience is in turn determined by multiple interfaces, including a web site to schedule maintenance, the service desk, quality of the mechanical work, billing, car delivery and more. All of those interfaces need to be seamlessly connected in ways that consistently reinforce fulfillment of the brand promise. And a failure (as perceived by the customer) at any one of those points can adversely affect their perception of the entire brand experience. Just ONE sub-optimal interaction can lead to a lack of trust or some other form of dissatisfaction.  I don't know if this is really and truly grasped by many businesses.


Apple was one of the first, if not the first, to pay attention to ALL of the service interfaces, including packaging - another customer touchpoint. Pay attention to Apple packaging; it's as elegant as the product inside.


Merriam Webster's definitions of integrity also include "seamless", "connected" and "united." Steps and players all along a service or  supply chain that demonstrate unity, connectedness and seamlessness in service to desired ends display design integrity. In the public sector especially this can be a HUGE issue, driven by silos and improper alignment of incentives with customer service.


Be authentic. Authenticity is a critical dimension of integrity; for products that includes uniqueness and originality. In the context of service design, Wooden and Hruby discussed another important aspect of authenticity: being real about what is true about customers. That means not assuming what service users or providers need and want, but actually asking them and collecting objective data. While it's true that customers can't always articulate what they really want - sometimes they don't know until you show them - the use of interviews and various ethnographic tools can help shed light on this. Whether designing a product or service experience, and for most other endeavors, we need to be careful about assumptions and test them. As Mark Twain said: "It's not what we don't know that will get us in trouble so much as what we think we know that just isn't so."


Be accountable. Being accountable includes accomplishing our objectives and fulfilling promises. As they say, "what gets measured get's done"; that means that to accomplish service design objectives and any intentions, we need to collect appropriate measures. If the goals of service redesign are improved customer satisfaction and cost reduction, we need to measure results accordingly. Going back to the first principle, we also need to collect balanced measures that reflect a whole perspective. Achieving increased customer satisfaction and reduced costs while burning out service providers would not demonstrate integrity.


Things change. Design integrity of products, services and organizations requires attunement to changes that suggest modifications, and processes for revisiting designs to accommodate those changes.


How might you apply these principles for design integrity to:

            Product design?

            Service design?

            Organization design?

            Your life?


In my book  Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best, you will find many more ways that integrity in its broadest sense contributes to leadership and organizational excellence.


Design is the application of intent - the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident.  

(Robert L. Peters)


The design process is really just Iterate, Iterate, Iterate. (Chris Clark) 



Out With The Old, In With The New

A new year lends itself naturally to reflection and planning, leading for some to make resolutions. My reflections and resolutions revolved mainly around what to let go of and what to make room for - what's "out" and what's "in."  Of course organizations and their leaders need to make comparable decisions on a regular basis, often coinciding with yearly strategic planning and budgeting.  Fundamentally, such decisions answer questions like these:

  • What practices, processes and traditions still serve us well, and which do not?
  • If there is a need to "lighten our load," what criteria should we use for what to keep and what to jettison?
  • What are our goals; what will we need to accomplish those goals? What will likely no longer be needed or may just drag us down?
  • How should we organize to achieve our goals? (Personally, this could be as simple as reorganizing our office and files; organizations need to look at things like organizational structure, roles, systems and processes.)
  • Whom should we associate with? Who shares our goals and values, and whom should we consider partnering with? Whom should we part with?

It dawned on me that some of the same framework that's helpful making these decisions at a personal level is also relevant for organizations and their leaders:


First, reconnect with our foundation - at a personal level, that includes any mission, goals, values or principles. As Roy Disney said: "It's easier to make decisions when we know what our values are." It is valuable for organizations to do the same, especially when facing the likely need for significant change. "Form follows function," so it's a good idea to be clear about our function or purpose at the outset as a basis for decisions that follow. For example, health care organizations of all stripes will continue experiencing significant turmoil in coming years as they merge, reorganize, seek greater efficiencies and otherwise adjust to their radically changing landscape. Sustainable change and engagement of caregivers that populate those

Win a Free Book! NI book cover png 052311

Enter the "WHO SAID THIS?" contest on our blog to win a free  autographed copy of  
"In this new book, Al Watts does a masterful job articulating how to live with integrity in our organization, on your team and in your life. A highly practical guide for leveraging the power of integrity."
(Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner Korn Ferrry)

Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363