Think about who you spend your day talking to. The average American spends over three hours per day SMS messaging. 50 minutes on Facebook. People who use Slack are marked active, on average, for over five hours a day. Even though we’re constantly in communication, we’re not talking to our friends. We’re talking to the software.
Facebook, Slack–and so many more–are the silent workers that do so much of the labor in our everyday lives. More than 1.2 billion people (in 140 different countries) rely on Microsoft Office to help them get their daily tasks done.
About half of the top-rated headlines on Inc every month feature human success stories, but we should also be asking ourselves: how can we be as helpful or as successful as iMessage, which processes 40 billion messages per day?
The answer is simple and surprising: integrity. It seems like a trait that software wouldn’t have, but having integrity is simply having values and making sure to implement them. Without values and implementation, no software can survive the business world–and neither can you.
Discover your values
Learn from UberEats’s nearly fatal lack of integrity: you cannot succeed without clear and defined values.
You’d never choose a product that does 20 things kind of well. You’d choose the one that was best at doing its job. Before UberEats got its own app and dedicated development team, it didn’t have clear values–was the app for food delivery or transportation?–so it couldn’t get off the ground.
In contrast, Paypal’s success comes from the fact that 188 million users rely on it for secure digital transactions–not secure transactions and mediocre food delivery service.
Arianna Huffington is an example of a businesswoman who has clear, unshakeable values–and has built an empire through her integrity. Huffington’s success is fueled by what’s important to her. She was inspired to write bestseller The Sleep Revolutionafter collapsing from exhaustion in 2007. She had so much focused integrity that she quit her thriving media company, The Huffington Post, to build ThriveGlobal, a startup that educates about the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Part of integrity is to know what’s important to you, which gives you the motivation and clarity to do what’s important to you.
Keep your promises. Or else.
Think of Netscape’s demise in the internet browser wars: you can have clear values, but if you don’t implement them, you’ll disappear.
It’s useful to think about integrity in the context of SaaS (software-as-a-service). Customers won’t keep paying for software month after month unless it delivers on its promises. Because customers could cancel at any time (even before their free trial period is over), it’s important to make sure companies fulfill the promise of the product as quickly as possible.
This starts with good user onboarding–the instructions and systems that help new users understand how the product works. Appcues helps companies execute their values immediately by making user onboarding fast, simple, and integrated, so customers can understand that a product has integrity as soon as they start using it. Because SaaS companies re-audition for their customers month after month, to succeed, they have to always have integrity and implement their values.
Any person that doesn’t reliably deliver on their values is also worthless in the business world. If the team behind Southwest didn’t reliably deliver low-cost flights, Southwest would fall off the market, and we’d pick a more luxurious airline. If a waiter didn’t put customer service first, they’d be out of a job. And if you didn’t make good on what you promised your boss, you’d be too. It’s that simple.
Integrity isn’t just about knowing what’s important to you, it’s about making sure youdo what’s important to you.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Software has a secret advantage to maintaining its integrity–it’s built to collect data about how it can succeed.
Integrity is about more than just implementing your values, it’s about making sure you’re implementing them well. When Microsoft Office crashes, it always asks for your permission to send an error report to the developers.
Qualaroo’s survey software helps businesses self-assess by integrating surveys with their website design. By providing a platform that lets businesses talk to their customers, Qualaroo tries to figure out not just what the data is, but why it is–for example, if a potential customer is abandoning their shopping cart on your website, they’ll be prompted to fill out a survey and give information about why they’re leaving.
We can overcome this advantage by collecting our own data. Personal analytics apps like Sherbit can help you use data to track your productivity, social media, and physical fitness. Oprah analyzed her ratings and successfully drove up viewer numbers when the Oprah Winfrey Network was tanking. Check your sales data, your viewership traffic–look for the what and why.
Making sure you’re doing your best to honor what you value is part of integrity–and part of continuing success.
While good successful software has integrity, successful people can get something from it that software cannot: pride.
Regardless of immediate results–Arianna Huffington and Steve Jobs certainly didn’t get them either–pride is what motivates us to come to work every day. If we know that we have integrity, that we’re taking our values and implementing them, we can be proud of and excited about the work we do.