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BW Businessworld

Like It Or Not, It’s A Dicee Situation

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If you build it, they will come. so goes the saying. The trouble with this over-simplified philosophy of executing in business is it does not explain why then so many innovative products — even those that seemed right for the market — fail. Clearly, there is more to creating a power brand than just innovation. Companies such as Apple and Coca-Cola do not just make products, they create movements around brands, taking what ordinary businesses call customers and transform them into believers. But what is common about these firms that makes them ‘stick'?

That is an answer most tomes on business tend to gloss over, and precisely what former chief evangelist of Apple Guy Kawasaki tackles in Enchantment. Many would know Kawasaki for his previous nine books about starting up and entrepreneurship, among them bestsellers such as The Art Of The Start, Reality Check and The Macintosh Way. This time, he tackles the tricky art of influence and persuasion without manipulation. Kawasaki calls this enchantment — a process of "delighting people with a product, service, organisation, or idea", which is all about winning the hearts and minds of people so as to get them on board with your cause. That cause could be an "idea that can make the world a better place... to convince people to dream the same dream that you do".

Sounds lofty? Kawasaki presents a strong case for why enchantment is important and, more critically, how it is used. He prescribes the key components to be enchanting: likeability and trustworthiness. To be more likeable, for instance, he offers 12 steps, such as defaulting to ‘yes' when someone asks for something. A yes "buys time, enables you to see more options, and builds rapport". Other aspects of likeability include basics such as a genuine smile, dressing in a manner that respects your audience and a proper handshake. If this sounds like common-sense advice to you, it may well be, though it is not always common practice. On dressing, for example, Kawasaki asks how often do you see someone show up for a presentation either underdressed (which signals disrespect for the audience) or overdressed (which says I'm richer, more powerful and more important than you). The likeable thing to do is to dress the same as the audience, dressing for a "tie" as Kawasaki puts it. Equal dressing says "we are peers".

Next is trustworthiness. The entire premise of the book is based on a foundation of integrity — influencing others without compromising our integrity. Here, Kawasaki describes two types of people in organisations — eaters and bakers. "Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie; while bakers want to make a bigger pie." Eaters inherently distrust most people and come from a position of scarcity, while bakers earn trust by creating abundance for themselves and others. Kawasaki lays out a strategy to make great products: the DICEE principle. Make products that are deep (feature rich), intelligent (anticipating needs and solving them smartly), complete (offering the totality of experience), empowering (helping consumers perform existing tasks better or offering tools to do new things that one had not envisioned) and elegant (with an eye for the user interface and experience).

Kawasaki also presents a veritable spread of stuff to do right. Like any good advisor, he details concrete steps to be more enchanting, such as how to launch a product by planting many seeds, a concept fast gaining traction in today's social-media-empowered-customer era. He suggests you plant seeds not just in the traditional way (media, influencers), but targeting "the nobodies". This could be the 45-year-old homemaker who adopts your cause and spreads it to her network. "The more nobodies you reach, the more likely they turn into somebodies for your cause." There is even some smart advice, even on how to enchant your boss and your employees and how to resist non-ethical enchanters — folks who have figured out how to enchant, but with motives that are not in your best interests.

The book is a light read. Yet, taking notes when you read it is strongly recommended. The pages are full of simple anecdotes and useful advice in building organisations and careers. While it is written primarily for entrepreneurs and marketers, it has lessons that will apply to all, whether you are a seasoned senior executive or a student starting off on your first job.

Author's Details
Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, author and Apple Fellow. He was one of the Apple employees responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. Currently, Kawasaki is managing director of Garage Technology Ventures. He has been part of the rumour reporting site Truemors, which was bought by NowPublic, and RSS aggregator Alltop. He is also a well-known blogger.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 18-07-2011)