January 21, 2013

Navigating Integrity: Transforming Business as Usual Into Business at Its Best

By Al Watts
Brio Press (2011) - ISBN 9780982668740
I am honored and glad to receive a beautiful business book Navigating Integrity: Transforming Business as Usual into Business at Its Best from the Author Al Watts.
Reading this small book is like snuggling up with a friend next to a fire on a winter evening, sipping a glass of your favorite coffee, and listening to him tell you the accumulated wisdom of his life. Al Watts is a veteran consultant who focuses on organizational integrity and also provides dynamite team-building lessons on board his sailboat. He combines these two passions in his new book.
Al Watts, author of “Navigating Integrity,” is a veteran consultant of nearly thirty years to all sizes of public and private corporations, all government sectors, and not-for-profits. His passionate, timely book makes one wonder if he saw, sooner than most of us, the appalling lack of values and ethics that has come to the fore in an alarming number of leaders and businesses. 
Watts’ goal in writing “Navigating Integrity” is to provide “...a catalyst for you and your organization to live up to your promise and be among those who are transforming business as usual into business at its best.” The identification and articulation of a leader’s and organization’s core values – “what we value most” - is a cornerstone of Watts’ model. As you would expect, integrity is at the top of his personal list of core values. His other core values include freedom with responsibility, invest in the next generation, good work (“for me and for others”), enjoy each day as if it is the last and as if I will account for it another day, and enjoy and respect nature. Upon reading the list, I couldn’t help but wonder what was on Bernie Madoff’s list.
The book offers an abundance of intelligent, hard-hitting quips from respected leaders in diverse fields that support the author’s model. Watts continually challenges the reader with stimulating questions that result in immediate self-reflection, i.e., “In what ways do you display the courage of owning who you are and standing up for what you believe?” This device makes for an especially engaging, interactive read. Readers are also invited to complete the online self-report, “Leadership Integrity Survey,” that gives them a measure of how they are currently navigating integrity with suggestions on how they can do so more effectively.
Al Watts’ “Navigating Integrity” reflects his considerable experience and expertise. This book suggests that the author is indeed living up to his promise. “Navigating Integrity” is a highly recommended addition to any business and family library, and to parents who are striving to nurture good kids who will grow up striving to “do the right thing.”
Watts’ thesis is that organizations, leaders, and teams need to balance four aspects of integrity if they are to be ethical, engaging, and effective. The model of integrity he has developed combines identity, authenticity, alignment, and accountability. Organizations that master the integrity challenge know who they are, where they are going, and what they value. Mastering the authenticity challenge involves modeling trueness to the mission and values, truth-telling, and transparency. To be in alignment means being congruent with what matters most, crafting unity from diversity, and continually adapting and growing. Organizations that are accountable are responsible, deliver on their promises, and exercise sound stewardship. 
He includes chapters on each of these aspects of integrity. Each chapter includes a discussion of the concept, along with numerous quotes by wise people through the ages, and questions to guide your thinking around that aspect of integrity. He also freely draws from his own experiences and those of his clients with these concepts, and frequently uses sailing metaphors to make his points. 
He frequently lightens up the serious nature of the concept with funny asides. I particularly liked his pointing out mistakes that leaders made in predicting the future. For example, Thomas J. Watson, Board Chairman of IBM, in 1943 said that “there is a world market for only about five computers.” And Decca Recording Company in 1962 turned away the Beatles, saying: “We don’t like that sound, and groups of guitars are on their way out.” In 1968 Business Week declared: “With over fifty foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market for itself.” 

After reading the book I took his Leadership Integrity Survey,” and was notably impressed. The survey is a self assessment of how you do in each of the four areas of integrity, and is offered for free to buyers of the book. My strongest score was in Identity, and my lowest was in Alignment. I wasn’t surprised by these results, but it was fun to see them in print, and to see how the survey supports the message of the book.
Once again, I personally thank you Al Watts for sending this remarkable book to me. To know more about Al Watts and his work please visit : www.alwattsintegro.com.


  1. Thanks, Deepak, and thanks for the review; 'glad you liked it! Al

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