Wharton School Publishing Examines Advocacy, Leadership, and Design

This month, Wharton School Publishing is featuring three books from leaders in the fields of marketing, leadership, and product development. These works — packed with practical and implementable ideas for executives — are must-reads for anyone who deals with the challenges of today's business environment.

Traditional “push-pull” marketing no longer works. Even highly-touted customer relationship initiatives are failing. Smart companies are pioneering an entirely new route to higher margins and sustainable competitive advantage: customer advocacy. In Don't Just Relate -— Advocate, Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, and MIT's Glen Urban reveals how customer advocacy works, why it works, and how to make it work for your company.

This is not about “relationship marketing,” a common buzzword among marketers today. Customer advocacy means faithfully representing your customers' interests. It means giving them open, honest, and complete information (because they'll discover the truth no matter what you do). It means talking with them, not at them. And it requires a massive transformation in both your culture and your processes. Now, one of the world's leading marketing innovators shows why you must make that transformation — and how to make it work.

Urban discusses eight elements of customer advocacy, from transparency to partnership, and answers long-asked questions to help readers identify and overcome most significant obstacles. Questions like:

  • Why are your customers now driving the relationship?

  • Why don't they respond to conventional marketing anymore?

  • Do your customers trust you?

  • How can you measure and change perceptions?

Then, drawing on new case studies, he shows how to align culture, metrics, incentives, and organization, driving effective advocacy throughout your entire organization.

Urban covers the entire “pyramid” of customer advocacy: the “base” (starting with TQM and customer satisfaction initiatives); the “middle” (relationship marketing); and the “pinnacle”: new advocacy techniques built on trust — not coercion. Drawing on the latest customer-advocacy initiatives at firms such as GM, Intel, Qwest, and John Deere, he identifies crucial lessons for earning, keeping, and profiting from customer trust.

“Establishing a reputation for customer trust, transparency, and advice will be the new differentiator. Congratulations to Glen Urban for moving 'best marketing practice' up a notch,” says Philip Kotler, author of numerous marketing books and author of the definitive textbook on marketing management, now in its 12th edition.

In today's environment, you must build unprecedented trust among customers who have more information, options, and sophistication than ever. You must transcend relationship marketing to focus on maximizing customer interests and deepening customer partnerships. It's not easy. But if you do it, you gain immense opportunities your competitors simply can't touch.

Trust is not only for customers. Making great decisions means that employees have the belief and venue to speak their minds and a corporate culture that allows for that kind of constructive discourse. Leaders hear 'yes' far too often. They don't hear bad news until it's too late. They get groupthink, not reality. They think they've achieved consensus, then find their decisions undermined by colleagues who never really bought in. They become isolated: even high-risk or illegal actions can go unquestioned. It's an enormous problem: for leaders, for teams, for the entire organization. But is it inevitable? Absolutely not.

In Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, Harvard Business School Professor Michael Roberto shows you how to stimulate dissent and debate to improve your decision making; he also shows how to keep that conflict constructive. Of course, conflict alone does not produce better decisions and improved results. Leaders need to cultivate debate and simultaneously build consensus. Strong buy-in paves the way to successful execution. Through fascinating examples from history — including the Columbia space shuttle disaster and the tragedy on Mount Everest — the book explores how real organizations make real decisions and how the process unfolds throughout the organization, not just in the boardroom. It uncovers five myths of executive decision making, why they are so dangerous, and how to overcome them.

Roberto also explores how to foster open debate that actually builds long-term consensus, how to achieve “diversity in counsel, unity and command,” how to move to closure avoiding “analysis paralysis” and other pitfalls, and how to gain the whole-hearted commitment to act. Roberto offers powerful new insights into managing teams, mitigating risk, even promoting ethics through effective governance. Whether you're a senior executive or a project team member, this book will help you leverage your team's immense untapped wisdom to make better decisions — and get better results.

Jonathan Kraft, Vice Chairman of the New England Patriots, sums up the book perfectly: “In his book Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, Michael Roberto provides a unique and very enlightening look into the process of decision making. His thesis around 'critical consensus building' is worthwhile reading for any manager or entrepreneur that strives to be the most effective leader they can be."”

So you've now made the right decision. Now it is time to implement product strategy around those decisions. What kinds of products/services will resonate with consumers today? What do they want? The iPod is a harbinger of a revolution in product design: innovation that targets customer emotion, self-image, and fantasy, not just product function. You'll read the hidden stories behind BodyMedia's SenseWear body monitor, Herman Miller's Mirra Chair, Swiffer's mops, OXO's potato peelers, Adidas' intelligent shoes, the new Ford F-150 pickup truck, and many other winning innovations. You'll meet the innovators, learning how they inspire and motivate their people, as they shepherd their visions through corporate bureaucracy to profitable reality.

These design revolutionaries have a healthy respect for the huge cultural and economic forces swirling around them, but they've gotten past the fear of failure, in order to surf the biggest waves — and deliver the most exciting breakthroughs. Along the way, the authors deconstruct the entire process of design innovation, showing how it really works, and how today's smartest companies are innovating more effectively than ever before. The Design of Things to Come will fascinate you — whether you're a consumer who's intrigued by innovation or an executive who wants to deliver more of it. “Much is being written about innovation that is of little utility to corporate managers, but this new book by Vogel, Cagan, and Boatwright is definitely worth reading. It disaggregates the broad concept of “innovation” into usable ideas and strategies that can be implemented. Whether it's the notion that manufacturing quality is the new commodity or designing for customer desire, this book breaks through all the chatter about innovation and deals with what's crucial for managers in their day-to-day work lives. I learned a great deal about innovation and design from it,” says Bruce Nussbaum, editorial page editor for Business Week.

From discovering the trends driving tomorrow's most profitable innovations, to designing for fantasy, to mastering the art of pragmatic innovation, The Design of Things To Come unleashes the power of today's best companies, building products and services that look great, feel great, and touch customers more deeply than ever before. The Design of Things To Come reveals who's doing it — and how.

Innovation isn't just the best way for companies to stay profitable; increasingly, it's the only way. Simply put, this book reveals the future of innovation. Whether you're an executive, entrepreneur, or consumer, you'll find it utterly compelling.

Wharton School Publishing encourages you to explore these books in more detail at www.whartonsp.com, as well as the other books from the Wharton School Publishing collection.


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