Differencemakers; why doing good is great for business

by Ian Berry

Publisher:Customer Centred Consulting, 2009 Available from: www.ianberry.au.com

Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*

This book was designed to be read in less than 2 hours yet still leave the reader with actions they could confidently take to make a positive difference. It meets both objectives. The book is an e-book, only available in soft copy. It is short and easy to read, even on a computer screen.

The best aspects of the book are its simplicity and the lists of actions. I got a pleasant surprise at how many I already did; many others would be easy to incorporate into my usual business (and personal) practices. It does build your confidence when you see things you do alongside other suggestions; you feel that you could do those things also if you wanted to.

The basis of the book is a quintuple bottom line approach. The economic, social and environmental tallies are joined by spiritual validity and universal harmony. I felt as if I had been tortured by O’Brien as I did not have the language for the last two bottom lines. As Orwell’s 1984 torturer predicted I found that not being able to precisely define concepts prevented me from getting a grasp on them. Enhanced definitions would make these sections easier to assimilate. Remembering, however, how we all struggled with the triple bottom line when it was first introduced, and how fluent most of us now are, I am confident that vocabulary and precise definitions will evolve if the ideas gain traction.

Spiritual validity is hard to describe. It is about defending ‘faith’ and the right of every individual to hold his or her own ‘faith’. It isn’t precisely respecting freedom of religion, although that is part of it. The philosophical basis is humility; seeking to understand rather than to be understood. I hate the label but do many of the actions.

Universal harmony is about ensuring that no unfair advantage is taken of anyone regardless of where or how you do business. Again, I lack fluency of language around the topic but find I do many of the actions. The dividing line is blurred between this concept and the social bottom line.

Because it is an e-book hyperlinks allow the reader to click through and reach video footage, sound recordings and other texts. I was seduced away many times but kept coming back to pick up the thread. The evangelistic tone will deter some readers. It is how Ian Berry lives, speaks and writes. It doesn’t prevent his book from encouraging independent thought and that makes it a good read for company directors.

* Julie Garland McLellan is a governance and board consultant. She is a professional non-executive director and an AICD NSW Councillor. She is the author of “The Director’s Dilemma” newsletter and “All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector”. Julie mentors directors to be more effective in their careers.

Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards