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War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don't See Eye-to-Eye--and What to Do about It

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining and Insightful. Nice Revision of good old marketing principles.

    'War in the boardroom' is Al Ries' eleventh book and fifth one that he has co-authored with his daughter Laura Ries. Book is a swift and cerebral ride through the way left-brained management perceives and goes about major organizational imperatives such as launch of new categories and products, innovation, customer acquisitions, expansion strategies and the way right-brained marketing differs in perception on each count. According to authors, management brass is often too logical and analytical whereas marketers are often quite visual and holistic in their approach. Consequently, two often don't see eye to eye on many issues.

    Al and Laura touch upon a slew of issues that often puts marketing and management at loggerheads with each other. According to authors, many marketing ideas are often low on 'logic' and consequently, they don't appeal to left-brain management. Ries' argue that management tends to view things in realms of reality keeping the 'perception-issues' at bay. This is precisely where most marketing problems creep up. CEO's often come up with bad strategies only to hang the blame on execution later. Managements are also in deep love with 'better product' agenda. Rarely, according to authors, has a no.2 brand leapt ahead of the market leader because it offered 'better' products or services. Authors emphasise that leadership perception is hard to dislodge from the minds of customers. 'Different' products or services are the best way to gain traction against a leader not 'better' products or services. Authors cite the example of Nintendo, which with its unique motion-sensitive controller whizzed past the likes of Sony and Microsoft and is currently number one in gaming-console market.

    Ries' continue their crusade against line-extensions in this book, too. Accroding to authors, management always wants to have a full-blown product line under one brand whereas marketing prefers a narrow and focused product line. CEO and co. often take the power of their brand for granted. They stretch their brand to the extent till it stops to stand for anything. Ries' assert that a narrow focus improves operational efficiencies, apart from building brand equity. This assertion is further backed up with case-studies of Chevrolet, Miller, Saturn, Motorola, etc. Of all, Motorola's example stands out for havinge slipped itself into a bottomless quagmire of acquisitions and misguided innovations (read Iridium). Authors' judgment is bang-on. It's almost irresistible for most humans to suppress the overwhelming force of expansion. Urge to expand is logical and commonsensical. And it's a classic left-brainer, too.

    Ries' also emphasize on the significance of being a first-mover in the minds of consumers. This view is quite contrarian to the one held by the most left-brain management types to whom being first in the market takes precedence over everything else. Authors also suggest ways to be the first in mind. Owning a strong association or an attribute, building your brands on PR than on advertising, contracting your focus, etc., according to authors, can help companies be the first in the minds.

    The only perceived lacunae in the book could be the lack of solutions from authors to bring management and marketing on same side of the fence. I, however, believe that authors have an implicit stance on this that Management with its logical and analytic bent of mind can never be on the same page wih holistic and visual Marketing.

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    Posted February 28, 2009

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    Posted July 15, 2009

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