My only previous experience of book reviewing was 150 words praising the Machiavellian subtlety of 'Asterix and the Secret Agent', so you'll understand if I keep things simple for this second foray. I like the fact that Swedish Stefan has been called a "chaos pilot". And I really like the fact his book is sub-titled 'Creative Common Sense in Business'. I can already sense a championing of straightforward thinking, and an avoidance of "analysis paralysis".
He's excellent at distilling truisms, even showing a talent for the odd soundbite. For example: "Tension is the heart muscle of creativity"; "Fake it until you make it as a brand... then you will become a brand"; and "Working side by side from the beginning saves resources and generates ideas". You get the idea. Another recurring theme is the need for us all to remember the power of childish simplicity... "Don't lock up your creativity. Think of what a child would do. A child sees opportunities with wonderful ease". It's this philosophy that's at the core of his overall approach. And who can argue with that?
One of his nuggets, his most powerful idea, is the ONE concept. I won't blow the punchline, but in essence it's all about taking the Peppers' One-to-One philosophy a step forward. And it's perfect common sense. And he's given lucid examples of how the ONE approach works. And you read it feeling guilty that you aren't doing it yet yourself.
Overall, it's thought-provoking and generally inspiring, but not life-changing or logic-leaping. And at times, you feel he's pulled together a series of his lecture notes. After all the hype, I was worried that I hadn't utterly fallen in love with his theories and examples. But it's difficult to do that when they're so rooted in common sense -- I mean, we're all so brimming over with common sense, aren't we...?
Halfway through reading this, I remembered a conversation one of my partners had recently with a senior marketing guy from the music industry. The marketing guy was complaining about agency account planners, and couldn't understand what value they added. But reading this book -- and reading the extensive praise for Stefan Engeseth -- I realised that this is a signpost (note: not blueprint) for the kind of thinking and value that good planners do generate. This book is about what good planning should be all about. And I don't think I spotted a single reference to research groups.
Stephen Chandler is a founding director of Feel, a new creative and strategic agency operating under, among other things, principles of common sense. To find out more about the agency visit feelagency.com or email email@example.com.
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ISBN Number: 9163113899
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com