The Law of Integrity

By September 27, 2017Strategy

The Law of Integrity was first articulated by Werner Erhard, Professor Michael Jensen, and Steve Zaffron, who developed a model of integrity that links integrity with heightened corporate and personal performance.

Erhard, Jensen, and Zaffron addressed integrity in a developing academic paper, whose primary purpose was to present a positive model of integrity that provided powerful access to increased performance for individuals, groups, and organizations. They defined integrity within a particular context, the context of science, in which integrity does not mean something good, moral, ethical, or desirable.

Their findings, backed by many years of direct experience with businesses and organizations, revealed a fundamental and causal link between integrity and increased performance.

Through their work of clarifying and defining what integrity is and its causal link to performance, their model provided a dynamic pathway to increased performance for private individuals, executives, economists, philosophers, policy makers, leaders, legal professionals, government authorities, and me – in my work and in my life.

To understand the Law of Integrity, we should first consider the definition of integrity: an unimpaired condition; soundness; the quality or state of being complete or undivided; whole, complete, with nothing left out. In our company, we apply the Law of Integrity as a cornerstone of our work with clients.

We express integrity in business communication and in corporate culture, as communication with and inside a commitment. In a committed language, communication is essentially anchored to integrity as your word. Your word is your bond; your word is your vow. This is not an ideal but a very clear guide to how to communicate with each other. Committed speaking becomes the language of the culture.

One’s word must be whole, complete, with nothing left out. Giving and keeping your word is central, and it is expressed as promises or requests. In this cultural language, a request is asking another person for a promise.

This level of committed communication is far more nuanced, given that it involves a special kind of listening, conditions of satisfaction, an existence system, specificity, and other elements to sustain its integrity. Simply put, a promise made is a commitment to a future, and when it fully complies with the Law of Integrity, it enables that future to be fulfilled. You get the results you want and ask for. The culture, the relationships, the level of performance are directly heightened when communications are directly bound to integrity.   

In our work, it sometimes takes a full year to transform an organization’s culture into one in which people’s word is their vow, their word is their pledge, their promises are legit, their requests are made effectively, and what is requested gets done as asked. But when that is the inherent, overarching culture, high performance and results are achieved.

The DEO is a staunch advocate of the Law of Integrity. We firmly believe in its efficacy, worth, and value. Our programs educate, train, and develop clients in corporate leadership, executive management, shared ownership and partnership, cultural development, and vendor and adviser relationships. When our clients fully comply with the Law of Integrity in each of these domains, they produce outstanding results.

Our observation, which has proven valid over the past 35 years is that without integrity, nothing works. The lower the level of integrity, the lower the level of results. The lower the level of integrity, the greater the amount of complaining, whining, poor action, reduced responsibility, bickering, pecking orders, clicks… and I could go on. These issues are all directly related to a lack of integrity in communication, and therefore the culture. Raise the level of integrity, and results go up immediately. It ain’t magic – it’s the Law, the Law of Integrity.


Integrity – A New Model: Putting Integrity into Finances; a Purely Positive Approach by Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen