Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan’s latest book, Bold: How to Be Brave in Business and Win, follows the successful format of many business books: get a range of corporate leaders to tell you how they do it so the rest of us can replicate their DNA.
The book is easy to read, with each chapter organised as a mini case-study of an international B2B or B2C champion applying bold ideas to engender customer, staff, supplier and overall loyalty to a memorable brand relationship. URLs are sprinkled throughout as useful signposts to more information on the concepts or companies.
Companies studied include Virgin Galactic, JCB, Burberry, O2, Zappos.com, WWF, with a range of leaders interviewed. While most carry typical job titles – managing director, marketing director, CEO, founder – a few are hilarious such as Geek Squad’s minister of propaganda.
While the book gives us in its penultimate chapter the what, why and who for ‘bold’ business, what’s missing is the how. Knowing that the authors are in the consultancy business, clearly those who complete the final chapter’s 40-item ‘Bold practice survey’ can get Shaun and Andy to help with the execution of their bold plans along the lines of several categories including: keep the main thing the main thing; demonstrate zealous leadership; dramatise the customer experience; be in pursuit of ‘wow’. The book is also embedded in an iPad app, claimed by the authors to be a publishing first.
Hopefully, that execution of this book’s ideas will be led by more than just the marketing function since being bold and doing right by the customer requires a joined-up organisation, a strategy and a culture that encourages risk-taking and, one assumes, values the customer. Perhaps we’ll see the British tabloid newspapers applying this flavour of bold which would perhaps contribute to their long-term sustainability, an implied lesson of the book.
As my former professor Peter Drucker is meant to have said: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ Let’s hope Shaun and Andy’s next book (Bold 2?) gives us more specifics on how to do it simply and profitably.
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