Guest reviewers choice

The 31 practices

Book review by David Evans - The 31 practices - release the power of your organization's VALUES everyday by Alan Williams & Alison Whybrow

The book is about the shift from product-based reputation to service- and people-centric reputation. It is about the 'how' of what we do at work, in support of all the normal goal-setting and performance-management tools and techniques already embedded in the organisation. The concept of developing 31 values-based practices that can be adopted and practised by your employees - one for each day of the month - originates from the recent seismic shifts in the world of work; partially resulting from the growth in technology as an enabler to trading and operational effectiveness, and partially from the increasing sophistication in consumer understanding.

If you accept that, then enduring organisational success is firmly embedded in its core values. Values, deeply-held beliefs that reflect what is important to us and what motivates us, define how organisations are perceived and experienced by their stakeholders. The purpose of the 31 practices is to enable people in organisations to reconnect with what is at the core, to promote authenticity and consistently-high positive performance at work and to facilitate individual well-being. The authors discuss purpose: they argue that unless there is a compelling purpose (the 'what'), the values (the 'how') are pretty much redundant. Selecting the most appropriate organisational purpose means that entities can ride out periods of turbulence in a way that less-grounded organisations cannot. Interestingly, the authors’ examples of organisational purpose focus on employee, rather than on customer; the logic being that an energised and focussed employee will naturally look after and delight the customer.

The underlying principles that give the 31 practices their robustness are discussed under the three headers of heart, mind and body; the emotional (which deals with emotions, inspiration and happiness), the mind’s inner landscape (mindfulness, resilience and storytelling) and the physical (practice, strengths and discipline). It focusses on the individual as the key unit of effect in the delivery of organisational excellence and is a precursor to the fourth part of the book which deals with some big topics - complexity, change, wisdom, neuroscience, choice and leadership. These are covered with useful summaries on the latest thinking for each topic, made accessible and practical.

This is a great reference book for those in organisations seeking to bring some meaning and order to the ever-changing world of work. It is a framework for fundamental organisational change: as a ‘How to’ guide for someone wishing to bring order into their life and a reminder of what’s possible in our complex world – this is a must-read.

5 stars: Exceptional, a “must read” for any manager or leader

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David Evans

Profile - David Evans 

David Evans, Primeast’s Head of Consulting, is a seasoned business consultant with extensive experience in transformational change, business improvement and strategy execution. His early career was in multi-national consumer-goods marketing and general management. His line-manager approach was focussed on task, teams and people, in equal measure. He has directed businesses through periods of rapid growth and significant change, delivering ambitious targets and developing the people around him at the same time.

As a consultant, David has delivered a large number of consulting projects, mainly focussed on leadership development, business improvement and organisational change. He deploys his extensive organisational knowledge working with senior teams as well as differing managerial levels, and he conducts one-to-one coaching, facilitation and problem-solving. Clients find his style approachable, challenging and outcomes-focussed. 
A Fellow of the CMI, with an MBA (Manchester Business School) and an MSc in Organisational Behaviour (Birkbeck College, University of London), David believes passionately in the balance of formal education – whether it be vocational or academic – and experiential learning, and in the power of ‘being there’ and ’doing’.