Archive for the ‘Issues and Incidents’ Category



September 29th, 2012
Jim Thomas

In 1961 engineer John Doe (name disguised at his request) was employed in the test laboratory at Lockheed Aircraft at Marietta Georgia. Lockheed was then a supplier of aircraft for the military. He was the youngest and least experienced of his co-workers.

At the time, those who designed the parts in question and those charged with testing them comprised a single operations unit.

Doe’s duties included testing of aircraft parts, as well as assistance with drafting reports of the test results.  A piece of electrical paneling came in for testing. The device contained a series of circular openings, tiny holes for transmission of electrical current. When Doe ran the test some openings failed. While a limited number were allowed, in his judgment too many had failed.

When he informed those who had designed the panel, they rejected his opinion. They concluded the failures were merely random, in numbers allowed by test standards. They proceeded to report them as random failures. After all, they were more experienced than he.

Doe weighed the hard evidence and his choices. After much deliberation, he elected to by-pass his immediate superiors and co-workers. He provided the Department Head his own assessment of the test results. After reviewing them the man immediately agreed. He rejected the random test and promptly divided the designer-test unit, each with separate and distinct responsibilities. At a meeting of the entire department he said, “We were fortunate that the one with the least experience had integrity.”


Do you agree with the opinion and actions of the Department Head?

Was there a lack of integrity by anyone?

How do you see the outcome?

Congressman Bush Exhibits Integrity at Memorial High School

July 17th, 2012
Jim Thomas

George H.W. Bush, the Forty-First President, was blessed with multiple advantages. Heir of a patrician Connecticut family of wealth, power, and prestige, he was endowed with an attractive persona, high intelligence, an Ivy League education, and a first-class temperament.

In 1966 he won his first election. Following defeat in the 1964 U.S.Senate race, he made a successful bid for Representative from the Seventh Congressional District of Texas. He served two terms in the Ninetieth and Ninety-First Congresses (1967-1971). During his very first term he confronted a supreme test of conscience.

Along with a host of critics, Bush had his admirers.  For them he was loyal to a fault, decent, modest, amiable, and very flexible—when flexibility was called for.—and deeply patriotic.  When the crisis arose on public housing, Bush demonstrated another attribute: He proved capable of extraordinary political integrity.


For Professionals, Firms, Corporations and Organizations: Test Your Integrity With This Checklist

November 7th, 2011
Jim Thomas

“Make absolute integrity the compass that guides you in everything you do, and surroud yourself only with people of flawless integrity. ” – Karl Eller, Integrity Is All You’ve Got

A checklist encompassing all points across the spectrum of integrity is a near impossibility. Use this one as a guide in drafting your own for use in managing the priceless assets of trust, respect, purpose, and reputation.


Golfer David Toms Exercises Monumental Integrity and Preserves His Self- Respect

October 11th, 2011
Jim Thomas


 Performance with unbending Integrity has more than one legitimate motivation. One, however, outranks all others—a determination to maintain one’s self-respect. Writing in the New Republic, Brad Blandshard observed that self-respect “…is the most powerful of motives for it is what no one can afford to lose; we try to be what we really admire because if we do not we despise ourselves.”

 Toms, a consummate professional on the PGA tour affirmed Blandshard’s tenet at the 2005 British Open, one of the game’s most prestigious events. That year it was played at the renowned Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland. That year Toms held one of the tour’s hottest hands. He was a leading contender to win the Open. That is until an unwanted occurrence came to light.

 On the morning of the Second Round, Toms came forward and made a startling revelation. He informed tournament officials, and later the press, that he might or might not have committed an error on the famous Road Hole. If he did, he should have taken a penalty stroke. Toms reported that once on the green, he missed a medium-length putt, then strode to the pin and tapped it in. He could not say for sure, but the ball may have wobbled in the wind. Placing a club on a moving ball called for a one-stroke penalty. No player or official at the scene caught it. He had no one to ask

 Toms disqualified himself from a major championship, in which he had chance of winning, with a lot of money on the line. The officials instructed Toms the call was up to him, since they could not verify one way or the other. He, himself, never doubted his disqualification. In his book, How, Dov Seidman describes his telephone interview with Toms as he made his way back home home to Louisiana from Scotland.

  Among other things said Toms, “Whether there was a breach of the rules or not, there was a doubt. I did not want to live with it; my conscience is clear because I felt like I did the right thing.  Sportsmanship in golf is on a different level. Whether I had won, or even made the cut, it wouldn’t have been fair to the rest of the field, and it certainly wouldn’t have been fair to me because I would have had to live with it forever.”

 Toms drives home a basic tenet of Integrity: it require individuals, professionals of every stripe, business executives, corporate managers, and organizations of all kinds to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons—even when there is no absolute demand to do so. In this fashion, the priceless capital of trust, confidence, purpose, credibility, and reputation is established and maintained.

 To assist in management of this kind of capital, Alliance for Integrity, LLC offers free of charge and costs two working tools: An Integrity Checklist and An Integrity Credo. Both are easily adjusted to your particular circumstances. Contact


An Insurance Agent Reaps the Integrity Advantage

September 8th, 2011
Jim Thomas

In their book, The Integrity Advantage, Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford relate an incident from the world of insurance. They describe a powerful example of integrity in action and the monetary and professional benefits that can flow from it. Here is what happened.


Dr.Jack Kevorkian,”Dr.Death,”Did the Physician Have Integrity?

July 13th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Both he and the facts are a matter of record. As a medical pathologist in Michigan, he willfully assisted at least 130 patients, dozens of whom—though not all—were terminally ill, end their lives. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years. Beginning in 1999, he served eight years of the sentence before being paroled. He died June 3, 1911, age 83.

Whether you, the reader, believe in an ill or suffering person’s right to end his or her life is beside the point. What is relevant were Kevorkian’s beliefs on the highly controversial subject?

By the 1980s, he formulated and published them in a series of articles that appeared in the German journal Medicine and Law. He held it was his professional duty to end human suffering. It was his duty to assist those in hopeless agony, mental and physical; whose individual lives had lost all meaning. He denounced the idea that the humane way was to let people starve and thirst to death, claiming that was the position of the American Medical Association.

Declaring that it was his aim to find a solution to incurable agony, he flatly refused to deny or disclaim his written beliefs. Defying prosecutors, the courts, and public condemnation, he proceeded to assist those who sought his services. He said, “It is no crime to die.” His stand cost him eight years in prison.

Critics and supporters agree that Kevorkian’s stubborn advocacy for his position stimulated hospice care in the United States. It also brought out in the open public debate on a subject long considered taboo. In 1997 the State of Oregon enacted a law authorizing physicians to prescribe lethal medications for the terminally ill seeking to end their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the statute constitutional.

Before answering the question posed, consider this: the cardinal virtue of integrity is the capacity to hold firmly to a set of principles, those that withstand scrutiny, that are beneficial to those directly concerned, even when it is difficult, inconvenient, or unprofitable to do so. Stated differently, integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.

So, how do you answer the question?

A German Jewish Chemist,Nitrogen,the 20th Century, and Integrity

June 22nd, 2011
Jim Thomas

Few know about him or his contribution to science and technology in the 20th century. Furthermore, his breakthrough discovery of a method for the fixation of nitrogen is one of the most underappreciated in history. At the very end of a fabulous career in chemical science, one marked by productivity and destruction, accolades and condemnation, he demonstrated the cardinal virtue of integrity in its purest form.

Here are the basics.

Franz Haber was a preeminent German Chemist of Jewish descent.
In 1909 he discovered a method for the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere.
A means for capturing nitrogen from the air had bedeviled scientists for a century.
The Haber-Process, as it is known, allowed industry to produce huge quantities of nitrogen products for both agriculture and industry.
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for food crops.
Nitrogen products are essential raw materials in the manufacture of explosives and munitions.
Across the 20th century farmers produced ever greater harvests thanks in large part to the availability of nitrogen-based plant food.
More food means more people. Two fifths of the world population would not be here, but for the Haber- Process.
Haber conceived and directed Germany’s launch of gas warfare during World War I, a feat for which he was widely condemned.
He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1919.

After the war, Haber became director of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. On April 7, 1933, the Nazis overlooked Haber’s Jewish descent but demanded dismissal of his staff of Jewish scientists. In a display of iron-clad integrity, he flatly refused and resigned. His letter of resignation reads in part “…in a scientific post in choosing fellow workers, I take into account only professional qualifications and the character of the applicant…” Haber went into exile and died the following year in Boset Switzerland, age 66.

Want to Lose Your Self-Respect? Emulate Lt. keefer of the USS Caine

June 6th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Philosopher Nathaniel Brandon wrote that “…self respect is one asset no one can afford to lose.” And the writer, Kingsley Amis added, “Surrendered even for the best of reasons, it’s gone for certain and forever.”

An exemplary portrayal of self-respect abandoned is found in Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Caine Mutiny. (Later, a superb movie starring Fred MacMurray as Keefer and Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg).

Lt. Keefer, third- in- command on the Caine, portrays a type that is alive and well. We find them in every sphere and sector of modern life—the individual who refuses to stand up and be counted when it counts.

In this World War II sea story, Captain Queeg takes command of an old destroyer-minesweeper operating in the Pacific Theater. After a series of bungled incidents aboard ship, Keefer concludes Queeg is either crazy or incompetent. He becomes outspoken among other officers and persuasive in sparking the revolt. Finally, in the crisis of a wild typhoon off the Philippines in December 1944, with the ship in mortal danger, and Queeg unable to function, executive officer Maryk relieves Queeg of command.

With Maryk at the helm, the Caine stabilizes and survives a typhoon. However, he is charged with mutiny and court martialed.

During court martial proceedings, Keefer is called as a witness for the prosecution. There he refuses to testify consistently with his numerous declarations of Queeg’s incompetency. In addition, he declines to support Maryk’s action that saved the ship. In essence, Keefer failed to affirm the very ideas he espoused so vigorously in private.

Maryk is acquitted. At the victory celebration, defense counsel charges Keefer with wanting to get Queeg all along “…while keeping your own skirts white and starchy.” Keefer can muster no response.

A colleague who sometimes disagreed with him said of Earl Warren, Governor of California and Chief Justice of the U.S Supreme Court, that “Warren stood up and was counted on every great issue of his age.”

The greatest single motivation for performance with integrity in the intent to maintain one’s self-respect. And, self-respect demands that we know what we stand for, that we are willing to stand for it, so others will know, too.

The French Resistance,Integrity, and the Deliberate Choice

May 10th, 2011
Jim Thomas

 We know it when we see it, but integrity—in the abstract—can be uncertain, vague, and even elusive. Yet, many who have thought deeply on the subject maintain it ranks first among the cardinal virtues. Undoubtedly, for without it other assets and advantages decline in value, or become of no value at all.

The men and women of the French Resistance in World War II exemplified the very essence of integrity. From them we see this indidpensable virtue is about making the deliberate choice. A choice to stand by the right principles, at the right time, for the right reasons—even when it is unprofitable or inconvenient to do so.

In May of 1940, Germany invaded and occupied France. The invaders soon clamped down with an iron heel. Young Frenchmen were deported to work in German war industries. French Jews were deported to concentration camps. Great treasures of French art and culture—the pride of the nation—were soon being looted and shipped to Germany. What should they do? What could they do, if anything? asked the citizens of France.

An overwhelming majority said “nothing,” and adhered to their usual routine. Another contingent collaborated with their occupiers. A tiny element, looking on from the safety of their homes and jobs, became outraged and decided something must be done. They made a deliberate choice; they joined forces with the resistance fighters. No one made them do it. They acted freely and voluntarily. Their motivations arose from patriotism and love of country.

Once the choice was made, France’s practitioners of integrity drew upon a separate and distinct virtue—courage—to enforce it.

In his highly popular book, Your Greatest Power, Psychologist J. Martin Kohe contends that the power to choose is the greatest single power of the human psyche.

The deliberate choice, not necessarily the superior choice, but by all means avoidance of the bad choice, that is the fundamental underpinning of integrity.

Commitments, Great and Small. Why Keep Them?

December 8th, 2010
Jim Thomas

Because keeping one’s word is the foundation of trust. And trust has the potential of creating success and prosperity in all endeavor. Trust affects relationships–personal and otherwise. Trust determines reliability, work in progress, business start-ups, and public perceptions of our efforts, products and services. Trust means  promises will be kept, that   services and products will be delivered as promised, when promised, and in the manner promised.

How does one achieve this priceless intangible ? through affirming and promoting and rewarding Integrity, first of the great cardinal virtues.  In its very essence, Integrity is best defined as the capacity to stand by the right ideas. It is confirmed when the deliberate choice  in conduct can withstand the light of day: when it contributes in some fashion to the greater good. Integrity does not necessarily demand the superior choice; it does demand avoidance of the bad choice. Consider this example from Winners Never Cheat, by Jon Huntsman, as quoted in The Speed of Trust  by Stephen M. R. Covey.

A contract was negotiated and  entered into.  With a simple handshake, Huntsman agreed to sell 40 percent of a division of his company to Great Lakes Chemical. The agreed upon price was $54 million. Counsel for Great Lakes went to work drafting a written sales contract. For various reasons, several months passed with no contract documents in place. In the interim,  raw material prices declined. Huntsman’s  profits tripled and margins rose significantly. Value of the division Huntsman agreed to sell for $54 million rose to an estimated $250 million.

Emerson Kampen, CEO of Great Lakes, determined that the sales price agreed upon had become grossly unfair to Huntsman. He volunteered to split the differnce in apprciated value. Huntsman declined the offer. He declared the parties negotiated in good faith and reached  agreement on price. It was a commitment he intended to keep and did. The transaction closed at the  price agreed upon of $54 million.

In recalling the episode, Huntsman had no regrets. He said,” I never had to wrestle with my conscience or look over myshoulder. My word was my bond.”  Standing by his values demonstrated Huntsman’s integrity. It also inspired trust. For he was asked to speak at Emerson Kampen’s funeral.