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Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't Paperback – August 17, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
--Tom Rath, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Strengths Based Leadership
“What’s new out there, what’s good, and will it be around tomorrow? Kevin Maney has written a provocative and original exploration of some of the mysteries of our consuming lives: why, for instance, has Apple stayed hot and Motorola gone cold? Will Starbucks and Wal-Mart and American Airlines flourish or flop? Required reading for all CEOs; intriguing and entertaining for the rest of us.”
--Harold Evans, author of They Made America: Two Centuries of Innovators
“This book demystifies success in the marketplace. Buy it, read it, learn from it and use it.”
--Keith Ferrazzi, bestselling author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back
“Moving deftly from Crocs to the Kindle, to Ozzy Osborne, to the daily newspaper, Kevin Maney shows how the trade-off between fidelity and convenience can make or break a business. He shares several success stories, of course. But even better, he tells us about some serious commercial bloopers. These cautionary tales alone are worth the price of this terrific book.”
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind
"Trade-Off by Kevin Maney shows how the tug-of-war between quality and convenience can make or break a product, a brand, or even a company. This book puts a new slant on why we make the choices we make in the marketplace. A fresh and fascinating read!"
--Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level
“Packed with historical and contemporary case studies, Trade-Off is a practical guide to overcoming business dilemmas and steering your company toward long-term success. Kevin Maney offers straight talk about choosing winning strategies that will keep your brand strong.”
--Tom Kelley, bestselling author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation
“Unputdownable! Trade-Off will change the way you think about why some things–iphones or Coach bags–take off, while others fall by the wayside. It you want to understand why the marketplace works the way it does, read it–then read it again.”
--Linda Kaplan Thaler, bestselling author of The Power of Nice and The Power of Small
“...like Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling books Outliers and Blink, Maney presents a seemingly simple premise and the evidence to support it -- as well as various factors that can complicate it.”
“Worth a read for another take on shifting ideas of quality.”
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Maney cites the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, as an example of a business leader who obviously did some hard thinking before making a critically important decision. During a program at a conference that Maney attended, "Hastings said that his strategic decisions at Netflix were driven by one simple core principle: People are willing to trade the quality of an experience for the convenience of getting it, and vice versa." It occurred Maney that Hastings' core concept "was a terrific lens for viewing the way the world works. It can be an invaluable insight when dreaming up new products, when positioning brands, when planning company strategy, or when analyzing competitors."
Each day, business leaders are required to make decisions that involve trade-offs of one kind or another. I agree with Maney that "how they play out in the marketplace is the key to countless business successes and failures.Read more ›
Maney has given us something practical to use. He has given us a lens, as he calls it, a mirror as I would call it, to understand the very basics of human psychology when it comes to seeking out products and services. It's a mirror because the markets are a reflection of ourselves. First, since we are sensory beings we like to be fully engaged in a high fidelity environment. In essence we like the high bandwidth experience of being there, live and in concert. Second, if we can't be there in person, then we are extremely lazy. These are the two extremes. We pay for things that simulate our senses, or we prefer the habit of convenience where we don't have to use our senses at all. We are willing to pay for the convenience as well.
Gladwell was never able to definitively explain "stickiness", that unknown phenomenon that produces an attraction to a product or service. Maney has given us the essence of the Gladwellian "stickiness".Read more ›
Possibly, I’m being too critical. Trade-off provides a useful framework for how to position a product or a brand, some clues into the long-term viability of a company, and even a little enlightenment into experiences and products around us.
Kevin Maney’s writing style is neat and clear. He does a great job of explaining a complex topic in a way that doesn’t make it seem overwhelming. Overall this a good book and well worth my time, but I don’t think it’s my first recommendation to anyone.
The central 'insight' of Trade-Off is 'the balance between quality and convenience.' High quality, or high fidelity other, on the one hand, or highly convenient products, on the other, will be successful. Those that languish in the 'fidelity belly' of being neither will not. This is interesting as a conceptual tool, which has the virtues of both simplicity and elegance, and I commend the author for this insight. The rest of the book comprise cases which supports or elaborates this concept.
The theory both explains too much and too little. It should be pretty clear that high fidelity or highly convenient products fail, for example, a doomed startup called General Magic to which the author himself draws attention, but drops. So he really doesn't spend much time on those cases that disprove his thesis--if it's either high fidelity or high convenience, it *must* work. Is there no commodity which can escape this theory? According to the author only a few basic ones, like electricity. But is this really the case--aren't all demand inelastic consumer goods immune to this thesis? For example, toothpaste, or toilet paper. If you use enough conceptual effort I suppose you could squeeze these into the theory by saying puffy toilet paper is 'high fidelity' while thin TP is 'highly convenient' but that's a bit of a reach isn't it? Some of his other examples are risible. He claims that hockey is not a 'high-fidelity TV sport' because--get this--the puck is too small.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have no clue why this is not mandatory reading in every business school. I use the methods taught in this book in practically every business decision I make.Published 16 months ago by Adam Smith
Technology journalist Kevin Maney coined the term "fidelity swap" to describe the choice consumers make between "convenience" and "fidelity," which is the quality of the experience... Read morePublished on June 28, 2010 by Rolf Dobelli
I really enjoyed reading this book... It gives you a different frame of thinking that can be very valuable when applying it to small biz. Read morePublished on March 21, 2010 by ROBERTO DE LEON
If overwhelmed and not sure where to go with a business "Trade-Off" is a good, simple book to help start the process of stepping back, orienting, and deciding. Read morePublished on January 29, 2010 by Gary Monti
Tiffany's Sells Swatches! Extremely unlikely, given there pull-back on $100 Charms because they recognized the trade-off they were making in serving that Customer verses serving... Read morePublished on January 23, 2010 by Gary B. Cohen
I only knew Kevin well-enough to say hello in the elevator in 1991 when he and I worked in different departments at USA Today. Read morePublished on January 23, 2010 by Holland Cooke
Tucked in Neal Stephenson's wonderful book Snow Crash is this comparison in a fictional future where all highways are owned by corporations:
"CSV-5 has better... Read more
I found this to be a fine book, though I did not find that it stretched my thinking much. It uses a simple paradigm and once you grasp it from the first several pages, the rest of... Read morePublished on November 29, 2009 by Florida Beachcomber
Is there a magic formula for success? This author suggests that successful products and companies know that they must choose between Fidelity and Convenience. Read morePublished on November 2, 2009 by Elisa Robyn