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Mavericks at Work
Autores: William C. TaylorPolly LaBarre
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In a business world defined by too much strategic mimicry and too many lowest-common-denominator competitive formulas. following a bland formula that’s hard to distinguish from everyone else’s. If the new arena of competition is value system versus value system. We admit it: we’re suckers for entrepreneurs and company builders who relish the chance to shake up the establishment and champion a different and better future for their industry. so much of strategy has been about mimicry. margins. Coke versus Pepsi. Strategy was about delivering superior products: Is your company’s automobile or appliance or computer cheaper. so that strategy returns to its familiar and predictable formulas. But in industry after industry. Diplomats. Chapter 2 Competition and Its Consequences: Disruptors. profitability. But inevitably (and almost immediately). nicer to look at? Strategy was about selecting attractive markets: What demographic segments or customer categories matter most to your organization? Strategy was about mastering economics: What advantages in scale. and shareholder returns? Which is why. Big companies in most industries have been content to compete from virtually identical strategic playbooks and to vie for advantage on the margin: Whose products can be a little better? Whose costs can be a little lower? Whose target markets can be a little more attractive? Think General Motors versus Ford. something genuinely new alters the trajectory of an industry: the rise of sport utility vehicles or zero percent financing in the auto business.Chapter 1 Not Just a Company. a Cause: Strategy as Advocacy For decades. innovation gives way to duplication. that’s precisely how most companies wind up competing. Every once in a while. the ubiquity of bottled water and natural drinks in the beverage business. to follow the unorthodox flight to leadership of a breakthrough innovator like Southwest Airlines. which is why competition feels so 2 . CBS versus ABC. costs. a well-defined set of parameters governed the logic of business competition. truth be told. or to watch the creative and financial performance of HBO. Chapter 3 Maverick Messages :Sizing Up Your Strategy Few companies consciously set out to be just another me-too player with another ho-hum business model. it’s exhilarating to get immersed in a brash young company like ING Direct USA. Every big player is quick to copy the original creative impulse (or acquire one of the creators). and a New Way to Talk About Business. of course. the creation of reality programming in the television business. better. there’s nothing quite like companies and executives who step into the arena convinced of the virtue of their values—and prepared to communicate their confidence in no uncertain terms. and pricing allow your company to deliver superior performance in productivity.

learning about trends in information technology. They champion high-stakes agendas. They present a fresh take on the world that clicks with customers. Gates reads. and eager for a break from the grind. from the markets they target to the customers they serve and the messages they send.unforgiving. Among the business ideas to receive a green light from the boss after these retreats. sometimes whole industries. people who are passionate enough about their craft. its Tablet PC. mission-critical backbone of the Internet. It’s a taken-forgranted part of life among the Internet cognoscenti. fueled by orange soda and two meals a day. For years opensource programs such as Apache. offers a perfect image of the lonely leader’s guide to innovation. We believe that a new wave of strategic innovation is being built around disruptive points of view. In his hugely influential book The Innovator’s Dilemma. to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. and Sendmail have been the unseen.: Open Source Gets Down to Business Bill Gates. Perl. and shapes their business. They create a competitive edge around an edgy critique of their industry. Maverick leaders don’t just strive to build high-performance companies. reflects. energizes employees. Tired. Chapter 4 Ideas Unlimited: Why Nobody Is as Smart as Everybody Another year went by as Goldcorp struggled to make sense of its promising find and to understand just what it was sitting on. the richest man in the world and by most accounts one of the great business geniuses of all time. In March 2005 the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page account of Gates’s secretive. and its online videogame business. Christensen awakened business to the power of “disruptive technologies”—digital breakthroughs that reshaped the governing economics of entire product segments. Chapter 6 Maverick Messages Open-Minding Your Business 3 . most of whom have never met one another and few of whom work together in any formal setting Chapter 5 Innovation. Part of the weeklong program focused on Linux and open-source software—computer code written by programmers scattered all over the world. an unabashed science and technology enthusiast. McEwen. the Journal reports. or who have a strong enough stake in the success of the project on which they work. were Microsoft’s Web browser. twice-a-year “Think Weeks” in which the Microsoft cofounder heads off by himself. but something of a mind-bender for us civilians: the world’s most important technology platform relies on ideas and computer code generated largely by a decentralized corps of volunteer programmers. to volunteer their time and expertise to write software that no company owns but millions of people can’t live (or at least work) without. Armed with white papers penned by Microsoft staffers. Inc. in total seclusion. decided to spend a week at MIT with a delegation of presidents and CEOs from other companies. Clayton M. and thinks big thoughts. frustrated.

to conjure up a sensory experience to captivate shoppers and capture their imaginations. A clothing store that uses sight. and learn from the best brains unearthed in the Goldcorp Challenge. Chapter 8 Small Gestures. Chapter 9 Maverick Messages : Building Your Bond with Customers The age of overload has inspired an overload of advice from branding gurus and Madison Avenue pundits. That’s why so many organizations and leaders find it hard to make the transition to this new model of innovation. What remains in short supply—and what the last two chapters were designed to offer in abundance—are insights and lessons from real-world innovators who are making enduring connections with their customers and. “on the lunatic fringe” of their industries. interact with. Now they want to come to the bank! —Vernon Hill. But applying the outside-in mind-set of open source means abandoning familiar assumptions about where great ideas come from. unduplicatable experience for our customers. Big Signals: Outstanding Strategies to Stand Out from the Crowd Asandwich shop with its own art director. How could so many smart CEOs fail to learn from such a winning idea? Chapter 7 From Selling Value to Sharing Values: Overcoming the Age of Overload I Chapter Seven From Selling Value to Sharing Values: Overcoming the Age of Overload We’ve shown that you can decommoditize a commodity business. who gets to be part of your company. Thus far. in the process. even smell. in the colorful words of Commerce Bank’s Dennis DiFlorio.Open-source innovation is reshaping the logic of creativity in countless fields. We were also struck by the fact that not a single one of his competitors chose to copy Goldcorp’s innovation or launch its own version of McEwen’s global brainstorming— despite the killer strategies and the wave of upbeat public attention it unleashed. A retail bank with employees who are such over-the-top extroverts that they perform in Broadway-style musical revues. We’ve created an unusual. and Radio City Music Hall is buzzing. I’ve had more people tell me that their kids used to want to go to Starbucks with them on Saturday morning. from software and the Internet to pharmaceuticals and the arts. our search for companies that have devised new ways to connect with customers and prosper in the age of overload has led us to true brand extremists— organizations that operate. and how to inspire the best contributions from them. a team of artisans to make tables and countertops. chairman and CEO. We were struck by Rob McEwen’s generosity of spirit when he invited his rivals in the goldmining business to meet. Nobody needs another me-too bank. we think you’ll agree. creating a maverick agenda for marketing and 4 . Commerce Bancorp t’s Saturday night in Manhattan. and an “underground” menu so that loyal customers can feel like insiders. sound.

enjoy a unique license among traditional business functions to think big and challenge convention. They are. and there’s not a Rockette in sight. One downside to being honest about the overcapacity. our devotion to Mavericks at Work seems misguided at best. static demand. Customer service leaders aren’t just responsible for fixing problems and fielding complaints. No. The group presents its plan without missing a beat. They refined Chapter 11 People and Performance: Stars. Based purely on data about sup ply and demand.S. Irving Wladawsky-Berger. almost as part of their job description. That’s 3. and Workplaces That Work The logic is so simple. face-to-face with IBM chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano. there’s room for an innovator with something original to offer and something authentic to say. and relentless competition. We’ve always believed that marketing and customer service have special roles to play inside organizations. Their charter is (or at least should be) not just to position products in the marketplace but to position the company for the future—a future that other executives might not be able to see. These companies are as unconventional and uncompromising about 5 . ultrasophisticated microprocessor that is the brain inside the Sony PlayStation 3 and has huge potential in avionics. medical imaging. and the results so compelling.service. is characterized by growing supply. Meanwhile. a superfast. Well. oversupply.000 new titles—13 percent more than the number of titles released the year before. and sensory overload that plague most industries is that it’s easy to get scared off: who wants to enter a market that’s already too crowded? But even in the most crowded markets. at their best. much like every other traditional media business. The book publishing business. at least we hope there is! Think for a moment about the market conditions surrounding this book. Now he and three teammates have exactly four minutes to present their “biz-tech” strategy for the socalled Cell chip. the conscience of the company—leaders whose job it is to make sure the organization delivers on its promises to customers. in the three years between 2001 and 2004.750 new books every week for 52 weeks. the number of books sold actually declined by 3 percent—and more than one-third of all the books shipped by publishers were returned unsold from retailers Chapter 10 The Company You Keep: Business as if People Mattered Ken Aponte is ready for his moment in the spotlight. and a couple of hundred other IBM executives and research wizards. Systems. Aponte was pinning on his ID badge for the first time in a lab at IBM’s Austin. he’s not at Radio City Music Hall. chief technology strategist Nicholas Donofrio. In 2004 U. publishers released 195. and other graphics-intensive fields. Marketers. One reason they’re so confident is that they know the material cold. The bestperforming companies we’ve encountered recognize that their most important decisions include not just what new segments to enter or what new offerings to launch but which new people to invite to become part of the enterprise. that it amazes us how few organizations embrace the idea with any degree of conviction: there is an ironclad connection between an organization’s standing in the talent market and its success in the product market. vice president of technology strategy and innovation. He’s on an auditorium stage in Armonk. Talk about the fast track: less than three months earlier. campus. Texas. New York.

the co-founder of the advertising agency Wielden + Kennedy and the man credited with creating Nike’s hallmark slogan “Just do it. It’s not so easy to figure out how to attract more than your fair share of the stars in your industry. one example is of Dan Wieden. and it is in this regard where the more open. challenging and democratic approach of many of the ‘mavericks’ provides lessons we can learn from. it is not a premise that I readily agree with. culture is brand. CONCLUTION The notion that mavericks succeed is not a new one. to the workplace environment. there is very little that is truly new in life. What certainly is different is the pace with which change happens. products and service. The book 6 . the better. since by definition a maverick is doing something different to the norm. his attitude is that he is anything but the brightest person in the room. Brand is culture. On the other hand. He describes his role as being to “walk in stupid every day”. and suggests that the more unorthodox you are. The book makes big play of an organisation’s ability to both know their customers and selectively target them with the appropriate marketing messages.the people factor in business as they are about every other factor. it is not surprising that both their success or failure will be more dramatic than the norm. after all. The book is packed full of anecdotes like this that make it both informative as well as entertaining. It begins with the contention that the only way to succeed in the modern world is to rethink the whole logic of how your business gets done – from strategy. where to look for them (especially if they’re not looking for you). In the current climate such organisations are being found out. precisely because so many companies are so mediocre at the people factor in business. For example. Chapter 12 Maverick Messages (IV): Practicing Your People Skills I Chapter Twelve Maverick Messages (IV): Practicing Your People Skills t’s easy to agree that the quality of a company’s performance can’t exceed the quality of the performers in the company. For too long organisations have been duplicitous in saying one thing while doing another. to marketing. This attitude helps both him and his staff retain an open mind and stay attuned to changes and innovations that they might otherwise miss. it doesn’t require earth-shattering innovations to stand out from the crowd and outperform the competition. That’s why a change-minded giant like IBM thinks so creatively about how to attract talented young technologists who might have big reservations about working with Big Blue.” Although Wielden is a hugely successful businessman with over 600 staff. What makes this book interesting is that it looks at what the successful mavericks have done differently with a view to providing thoughts and ideas for everyone else. Some of the key points that emerge from the book are as follows: There’s always a demand for something distinctive. While this is a nice eye-catching theme. and how to encourage talented individuals to work together. To make the point they provide examples of products that have been successfully launched into already crowded markets – such as a new bank or a new soda drink. there are however many things that have been forgotten. In my opinion. Not all customers are the same. to human resources.

The customers of the most successful companies are not just customers. the only way in which this does not become anarchy is by ensuring that all employees understand and share a commitment to the organisation’s goals and purpose. 7 . change and improve’. It is packed full of interesting anecdotes and ideas that are likely to stimulate thoughts and ideas in your own mind.therefore argues that to succeed. For example. it is breaking with the tradition of “top-down” management and democratising the workplace. This goes beyond merely valuing employees. This. Seeing employees as the most important asset. whereas I would prefer to describe it as being more along the lines of ‘the most successful companies are also the ones who engage all of their staff in constantly seeking to innovate. My only word of caution is that I feel the authors are assuming that wacky ideas and success equate to cause and effect. Advertising to customers is not the same as connecting with customers. fun and interesting book. many customers of Google see it as an organisation that is challenging convention and fighting against the might of Microsoft and the other large IT corporations. despite the fact that Google is now itself a large IT corporation. Mavericks at Work is an informative. they are also advocates whose goals and ambitions match the mission and purpose of the organisation. Obviously. you really do have to walk the talk and ensure that the organisation’s behaviour is 100% compatible with the image it wishes to portray.