Higher Ground: A Book Review by Bob Morris

Higher Ground: How Business Can Do the Right Thing in a Turbulent World
Alison Taylor
Harvard Business Review Press (February 2024)

How and why a total commitment to conducting ethical business is essential to sustaining profitable results

The business world today is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall. According to Alison Taylor, “Navigating this rugged and tumultuous world would be tricky in the best of times. But as  the earth shifts underneath, we are using leaky boots and worn-out tools to keep from being dragged into the muck. Since we cannot reliably shield ourselves from turmoil, we should pause to review some of the shaky precepts that got us here. The path to higher ground calls for better footing and firmer foundations.”

These are among the strategic objectives she prepares her reader to achieve, presumabky in collaboration with others. Each is preceded by HOW to:

o Build reciprocity and trust with stakeholders
o Set no more than three critically important social and environmental priorities
o Challenge corruption with clear standards, good products, strong stakeholder relationships, and consistent communication
o Anchor values in initiatives that have positive impact on stakeholders
o Design rules for humans

o Get serious about corporate political responsibility

o Establish transparency without making problems worse
o Rethink ethical culture
o Lead in the mid-21st century
o Design rules for humans
o Speak up in an era of activism

Alison Taylor provides an abundance of invaluable information, insights, and counsel that can help leaders of almost any organization — whatever its size and nature may be — to “do the right thing in a turbulent world” and do it with values that accelerate personal growth and professional development.

* * *

Here are other suggestions to keep in mind while reading Higher Ground: Highlight key passages, and, record your comments, questions, action steps (preferably with deadlines), page references, and lessons you have learned as well as your responses to key points posed within the narrative. Pay special attention to the end-of-chapter nuggets of practical advice, “Steps to Higher Ground” (Chapters 3-12).

These two simple tactics — highlighting and documenting — will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent reviews of key material later.



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