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Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas Hardcover – May 15, 2012


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Frequently Bought Together

Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas + Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation + How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422143295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422143292
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“McCracken’s lively exploration of how media experiments, rule breaking, and parody can expose culture and move it forward proves fascinating and provocative.” — Publishers Weekly

“Inspirational and quirky, McCracken’s book offers insight on why corporations might want to do this, and suggests a recipe for going about it.” — Research-Technology Management

“This book is for all businesses and is written to inspire new innovation and creativity.” — T+D magazine (American Society for Training & Development)

“McCracken’s point is that in the modern world it is almost impossible to know where the next big idea is coming from… But, thanks to social media and also to the fact that the world is in many ways a lot more homogenous than used to be the case, certain ideas, thoughts, programmes spread like wildfire.” — futureofbusiness.com

“Grant McCracken introduces, in this thought-provoking book, the notion of the culturematic, a machine for making culture – otherwise described as an ingenuity engine... McCracken has interesting observations about how the growing inscrutability of the world haunts traditional producers of culture.” — The Irish Times

“Worth the read if you’re trying to create meaning and value in the world.” — LeadershipNow (leadershipnow.com)

“Working in the digital culture industry, Culturematic is certainly inspirational. If nothing else, it’s an excellent compendium of cultural artifacts that have touched the zeitgeist in the last few years.” — Social Media Group (socialmediagroup.com)

“Engagingly written and accessible to both business and lay people, the book will have broad appeal to entrepreneurs, marketers, inventors, artists, and people looking for a creativity boost in their professional or personal lives.” — Library Journal

“his book will definitely lead you to a greater appreciation of your own inner curiosities” — Marketing Daily/MediaPost

ADVANCE PRAISE for Culturematic

“No one views American culture—nor discovers its meaning—in quite the way Grant McCracken does. With his sparkling Culturematic as your guide, go from consuming culture to making it, one small, achievable, and ingenious step at a time.” — B. Joseph Pine II, coauthor, The Experience Economy and Infinite Possibility

Culturematic pulls back the curtain on the fascinating cultural world that drives brands, corporations, and society. Both a revealer of history and a predictor of the future, Grant McCracken provides tools for innovation and mischief that will help you place yourself and your company on the relevant edge of culture. A guidebook, a tool, and a great read.” — Stanley Hainsworth, Chief Creative Officer, Tether

“Grant McCracken is a cool guy and thinker with consistently cutting-edge insights about the way people are thinking, working, and feeling. McCracken’s challenge here, to be a culture-making entrepreneur—‘a Culturematic’—resonated strongly with me, as I expect it will for many people and leaders who want to invent their futures by starting small.” — Peter Sims, author, Little Bets; Cofounder and Director, Fuse Corps

“We are leaving behind a marketing age that rewarded safe bets. Culturematic prepares us to listen more and hear the answers in unexpected places.” — John A. Deighton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

“There’s a misconception that innovation lives only in labs populated by white-coat wearing scientists. In his wide-ranging and entertaining book, Grant McCracken shows how that is not true. Culturematic manages to be both an engaging and practical guide to creativity and innovation. A worthwhile read.” — Scott D. Anthony, Managing Director Innosight Asia-Pacific; author of The Little Black Book Innovation

From the Back Cover

"No one views American culture--nor discovers its meaning--in quite the way Grant McCracken does. With his sparkling Culturematic as your guide, go from consuming culture to making it, one small, achievable, and ingenious step at a time."
 
--B. Joseph Pine II, coauthor, The Experience Economy and Infinite Possibility
 
"Culturematic pulls back the curtain on the fascinating cultural world that drives brands, corporations, and society. Both a revealer of history and a predictor of the future, Grant McCracken provides tools for innovation and mischief that will help you place yourself and your company on the relevant edge of culture. A guidebook, a tool, and a great read."
 
--Stanley Hainsworth, Chief Creative Officer, Tether
 
"Grant McCracken is a cool guy and thinker with consistently cutting-edge insights about the way people are thinking, working, and feeling. McCracken's challenge here, to be a culture-making entrepreneur--'a Culturematic'--resonated strongly with me, as I expect it will for many people and leaders who want to invent their futures by starting small."
 
--Peter Sims, author, Little Bets; Cofounder and Director, Fuse Corps
 
"We are leaving behind a marketing age that rewarded safe bets. Culturematic prepares us to listen more and hear the answers in unexpected places."
 
--John A. Deighton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
 
"There's a misconception that innovation lives only in labs populated by white-coat wearing scientists. In his wide-ranging and entertaining book, Grant McCracken shows how that is not true. Culturematic manages to be both an engaging and practical guide to creativity and innovation. A worthwhile read."
 
--Scott D. Anthony, Managing Director, Innosight Asia-Pacific; author of The Little Black Book of Innovation.

More About the Author

Trained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Grant has studied American culture and commerce for 25 years.

He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and worked for many organizations including Timberland, New York Historical Society, Diageo, IKEA, Sesame Street, Nike, and Kimberly Clark.

He started the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, where he did the first museum exhibit on youth cultures.

He has taught anthropology at the University of Cambridge, ethnography at MIT, and marketing at the Harvard Business School. He is presently a research affiliate in the Department of Comparative Media at MIT.

He is a long time student of culture and commerce. He has explored this theme in two books: Culture and Consumption I, and Culture and Consumption II.

He has also looked at how Americans invent and reinvent themselves. He had explored this theme in two more books: Big Hair and Transformations: identity construction in a contemporary culture.

He is the student of American culture. Plenitude published in 1997 looked at the new explosive growth of contemporary culture. In Flock and Flow, he shows how contemporary culture and commerce change.

Two years ago, he published a book called Chief Culture Officer with Basic Books that argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for the organization that need senior managers who focus on it full time. He is hoping this will create a new occupational destination for graduates in the arts and humanities.

This spring Grant is publishing a book called Culturematic with the Harvard Business Review Press.

Customer Reviews

I just finished "Culturematic", in 1 day actually, and must say it is the best social anthropologic book I have ever read.
Jay Dmuchowski
I found Culturematic a refreshing change from most business strategy books as McCracken approaches the concept of innovation from his expertise as an anthropologist.
barbcfa
While re-reading highlighted passages prior to composing this review, I realized that this book is Grant McCracken's Culturematic.
Robert Morris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Maddux on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Grant McCracken for several years. Not only has his blog been consistently thoughtful and timely, but back before social - his blogroll was the standard for creative-cultural amazingness. I've mostly enjoyed his books with head-nodding and inner exclamations of "yes, absolutely."

This book is different, in a good way. This book had me wanting to hurry up and finish it so I could get up and DO SOMETHING CULTUREMATIC, almost similar to the way one feels at the end of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (who is a Culturematic reference.)

The book starts nicely by building relevance, especially if you are a fan of the often mentioned with this title Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries or the great Gilmore and Pine books (The Experience Economy, Updated Edition & Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want.) McCracken's discussion and points about modern culture making are diverse and simple to understand. What he is writing about in Culturematic weaves into many existing conversations. After establishing relevancy, he helpfully gives the reader dozens of up-to-date examples. It is informative, but also respectful of our access to Wikipedia, Google and YouTube - so we get the important bits and how it ties in with the discussion, but no more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kastelle on May 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In his last book, Chief Culture Officer, Grant McCracken made the case for why firms must pay attention to culture to succeed. In this book, McCracken outlines a method for doing this effectively. He defines a Culturematic as a tool for cultural innovation. They are basically tests - you answer a "what if..." question, try it out, discover what works (and what doesn't), and then unlock value from what you learn.

The idea is deceptively simple, but profound. You may read the descriptions of the book and say "but I'm not interested reality TV, fantasy football, ROFLcon etc." It doesn't matter. What McCracken describes is an experimental approach to innovation that applies more generally than might be obvious. Experimenting is at the core of any successful innovation effort, and the tools described in this book can be used in much wider contexts than those used as examples in it. In that, it is a good companion to Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.

The ideas in this book will be useful to anyone interested in innovation, design thinking or those running organisations that have a strong connection to culture (be it low or high). On top of that, it is well-written and fun to read - an added bonus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mark_e on September 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Culturematic, McCracken introduces a methodology of creativity. By following his methodology, you create a "Culturematic," a thought process* that creates intriguing new concepts. McCracken gives countless examples of recent pop culture phenomena he believes originate from Culturematics.

The methodology for creating a Culturematic is simple, if unclear. Using examples pulled from the book, the methodology is:

1. Test the world: Ask "What if..." or "What if I..." (e.g. What if I invented a professional sports league?)
2. Discover Culture: Your "what if" should reframe culture and produce new culture (e.g. Lonely Island starts with "What if I prematurely ejaculated to an insane degree," ends in Jizz in My Pants skit.)
3. Unleash value: Profit! (e.g. Think about all the money made by Julie and Julia food blog, or Supersize Me)

To his credit, McCracken immediately seems to realize his methodology is vague and unhelpful. As such, he spends a significant portion of the rest of the book attempting to clarify what following these three steps actually entails. Such clarifications include:

-Culturematics have no desired or definite outcome when born.
-Culturematics are not posturing in anyway (except incidentally).
-Culturematics reframe the world in a way that makes it more organized, more tangible, or breaks previous distinctions (such as between art and science).
-Culturematics have something like an emergent order (and as such, you should go out in the world and experience ideas unrelated to your own).
-Culturematics work from native curiosity and excitement.
-Culturematics should focus on small ideas that can grow, rather than on big ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By barbcfa on June 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an Equity Analyst, I love reading business strategy books to gain new insights into how to look at companies. I discovered Culturematic while listening to a recent HBR Ideacast podcast interview with its author, Grant McCracken - [...] I was intrigued and downloaded the book onto my Kindle. I found Culturematic a refreshing change from most business strategy books as McCracken approaches the concept of innovation from his expertise as an anthropologist. It is interesting as McCracken's own blog which "sits at the intersection of anthropology and economics" - [...]-camps - is a culturematic itself as it brings together two unrelated domains and creates a new way for people to look at corporate strategy. Another example of a company that is a culturematic which follows McCracken's "...rules: Don't look for big ideas. Seek small ideas that can grow. Fail fast. Fail often. Keep learning and never give up." is lululemon - [...]. I highly recommend you check out this fascinating book!
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