Integrity, Most desired, but least Valuable!?
My view. No.
Matt’s experience with BaseCamp is unique. Integrity is a hugely desired characteristic. I love it! Indeed, I like to think I have some. However, the reality is, two samples does not a population make. Indeed, most people or companies who claim to want it can’t take the honesty that comes with it or otherwise take advantage of it.
For me, doing the right thing comes above and beyond my own needs and often the needs of the client. The reality is that most people don’t really appreciate the effort or that postion. Indeed, this has claimed the scalp of many companies in their time, including GigaOM in the last 2 years or so. The market, taken as a whole, does not value integrity.
Does doing the right thing comes back to you?
To understand if it does, I conducted a bit of analysis on my own experience. I won’t repeat the analysis method or results, suffice to show the resulting graph. You can look at more details in the original article. What this tells me is helping other people, for free, is not valued by people. Indeed, in the UK in particular, it’s often the case that there is almost a sense of entitlement or expectation to free stuff. What helping others and maintaining integrity does, is tell those sorts of people that you value their experience more than your own. That’s pretty cool! Until you then find the huge number of people who either don’t appreciate your effort or worse, come back to you for more and more and more. Basically taking advantage of your integrity, your position on doing the right thing (and them not) and maybe even good nature.
Matt’s story about BaseCamp is cool, since that is the secondary or exception scenario to a normal primary scenario (i.e. it’s an exception to the rule). The other side is the above, which is the normal first line process, or rule to the exception, which returns very little for that integrity. In addition, Matt is one person among a million others. Looking at it from BaseCamp’s perspective, I hope all their customers are as appreciative as Matt is. Chances are they’re not. BaseCamp exists in a world with a lot less integrity than it has, which makes it exceptional, but also says a lot about us as a society and the value we place on the importance of the integrity of existing brands.
Integrity is dead, long live integrity.