Customer Review

84 of 100 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Have they no shame?, January 31, 2008
This review is from: The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable (Hardcover)
I don't know what came over me in the bookstore. Mysteriously, when I got home, this book was at the bottom of the bag. It's an embarrassment.

I would have thought it impossible to come up with something more stupid, more openly contemptuous of the very managers purportedly being 'helped', than the horrendous "Who Moved My Cheese?" of a few years back. You remember, the one which portrayed employees as mildly retarded rodents. But one shouldn't underestimate the intellectual arrogance of the consultant class, nor the gullibility of corporate management.

This book is infinitely worse. It turns out that there is no apparent limit to the degree of atrocity of the rubbish that can be generated (and printed) in an "unprecedented collaboration of the world's smartest business thinkers". Despite the separation of material in this book into separate chapters, there is no individual attribution of responsibility for the individual chapters. This is not a good sign.

Seth Godin, the nominal 'editor', obviously sees no problem in publishing a book which, for any concrete piece of strategic advice that is included, hedges its bets by also advising the diametrically opposing strategy. Thus, to succeed companies should:

1a. Stick with what they know and do it well. (Focusing on your specialty is key).
1b. Not get stuck in the rut of what they know, they should branch out. (Focusing on your specialty is fatal)
2a. (page 23) "ignore your customers" (the customer is ignorant and wrong).
2b. (page 64) the customer is always right.
3a. (page 31) "Every organization that gets into trouble falters because it waited too long to change...". (urgency is crucial)
3b. (page 136) "Remarkable doesn't always mean right now" (urgency is detrimental).

And so on. Because chapter authors are not individually identified, should your coin toss happen to choose the wrong option between 1a and 1b, 2a and 2b, 3a and 3b, there can be no assignable blame.

However, at least the examples above have the virtue of giving concrete, specific advice. If that makes you nervous, there is also plenty of this kind of gibberish:

Plant rocks.
Embrace the power of storytelling.
Ignore the regulations. (I'm trying to imagine how this would play out in, say, the pharmaceutical or biotech industries).
Imagine there's a tiger loose in your office. Breathe the fear. Fear is good.
You are not a cog. You are not ordinary. In fact, you are remarkable.

But if you're dumb enough to buy this book, you're a complete moron. Even by the extraordinarily lax standards for business advice books, it sets a new low.

Zero stars.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 2, 2009 1:07:28 PM PST
Great review. Thanks for saving me the pain and expense of buying this book.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 6:26:25 AM PDT
J. Dummer says:
AMEN!!!!!!

Posted on Jul 26, 2009 10:33:27 AM PDT
Qwester says:
I wish the reviewer would write a book, funny stuff. Thanks for saving me both money and time.

Posted on Aug 4, 2009 1:44:37 PM PDT
gatorjag says:
In product reviews, especially books, I have learned to read the one-star reviews first. Thanks David! You saved me money and the aggravation of reading a useless book.

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 10:04:52 PM PDT
Best review ever.

Posted on Feb 8, 2010 3:40:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2010 3:45:39 PM PST
I must politely disagree in the smallest detail... I think it's a one-star and not a zero-star book. Organizational learning that allows people to add to predecessors instead only working in a box requires organizational stories that impart a narrative knowledge (filled with emotional allegories and metaphors) that produce the motivation for services to be rendered and products and structures to be built. Moreover, the "truth" to these stories is not measured by their accuracy but by their capacity to express a compelling set of meaning (even Wikipedia says so). And, IMHO Seth Gardin does an excellent job of using such heart to describe a strong message - I love many of the stories here. It is only that he (or the combined authors) has completely forgotten to use any scientific critical thinking to make sure that message is valid as well. Every person (message) must be both the hero and the scientist. We all know heroes attract more people (and money) than scientists, but we must always strive to be both. This book should be read only for the fun and not (sadly) be taken seriously. This book is so popular (as is Who Moved My Cheese), it needs to be read to be culturally literate. Moreover, the stories can well be used to explain whatever change you might be implementing (and, as David points out, this text is especially helpful in equally providing arguments for each and every side - LOL). It's just that I would suggest one should borrow rather than buy and skim rather than read. The message here is completely within the media (ha ha).

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2010 3:48:18 PM PDT
...in other words, the books is crap. Right?

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2010 6:32:59 PM PDT
J. Dummer says:
we were having problems at work - so the head honcho - bought us all the book - and THEN made us all listen to the book on tape!!!! AHHHH!!!!!! the worst day of my life - then within a year - I caught my boss (who was the head honchos good friend) stealing 2 grand from me - took 12 weeks to get him fired - and he was the reason none of us were getting along. This book will suck time out of your life and give you nothing in return.

Posted on Sep 10, 2010 10:11:40 AM PDT
Thanks for the sage advice!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2011 6:32:25 PM PST
I agree. I don't know about the accuracy of the review - I have read three of Godin's books, 1 awesome, 1 good and 1 bad - but it was a funny review. Since I'm really limited in time, I think I'll look for a different book.
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