Karaoke Capitalism: Daring to Be Different in a Copycat World

By Jonas Ridderstrale, Kjell A. Nordstrom

We all know that the rules by which business is conducted have changed. But by how much? The dot.commers who threw out the playbook and tried to reinvent everything crashed and burned.

"Back-to-basics" and "execution" are refrains reverberating down corporate hallways. And yet there is still a sense of unease. "Playing it safe" could just be another phrase for "heading toward business oblivion."

Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom, the outspoken authors of the international besteller, Funky Business, are at it again, with a provocative analysis of the social and cultural forces that are defining the business landscape--in particular, the fundamental relationships between employers and employees and between companies and customers.

Covering a huge terrain--from the impact of high tech to the ever-widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and with references from Adam Smith to Janis Joplin--the authors bring into focus the challenges of business leadership in a world increasingly defined by individualism. "Karaoke" capitalism refers to the philosophy of imitiation, engrained into the corporate mindset by such popular concepts as benchmarking and best practice.

For Ridderstrale and Nordstrom, the only way to survive is to chuck convention, to embrace your company's individual personality and promote it through everything you do, constantly honing what works and abandoning what doesn't. Ultimately, the authors argue that armed with imagination it is possible to sustain profitable businesses while contributing to the well-being of customers, communities, and the society at large.

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