Spring Deals Automotive HPC Children of Blood and Bone New-season heels nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Starting at $39.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon Pitch Perfect 3 available to buy Pitch Perfect 3 available to buy Pitch Perfect 3 available to buy  Echo Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop now TG18PP_gno

I read this book when it was first published in 2009 and then read and reviewed Grant McCracken's more recent book, Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas. Of all the current observers of the contemporary business world and, especially, of the evolution of workplace culture, I know of no one else who sees more and sees more deeply than he does. Here's a case in point.

Just as Dave Ulrich has been an advocate for several years of adding a chief human resources officer (CHRO) to an organization's management team, McCracken is determined to add another. As he explains, "That's what I want to do with this book [Chief Culture Officer]: invent an office and an officer - the Chief Culture Officer, the person who knows the culture, both its fads and fashions, and its deep, enduring structure. I hope this book will be read by two groups: people inside the corporation who want to make the corporation more intelligent, strategic, and responsive, and people outside the corporation who want to turn their knowledge of culture into a profession and a career."

Years ago, Southwest Airlines' then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, explained the importance of culture to its success: "Maintaining excellent customer services involves a process of getting people to understand the importance of it to them in their daily lives as well as in others'. We were a little concerned as we got bigger that maybe some of our early culture might be lost so we set up a culture committee whose only purpose is to keep the Southwest Airlines culture alive. Before people knew how to make fire, there was a fire watcher. Cave dwellers may have found a tree hit by lightning and brought fire back to the cave. Somebody had to make sure it kept going because if it went out, there would be very serious problems. The fire watcher was the most important person in the tribe. I said to our culture committee, "You are our fire watchers, who make sure the fire does not go out. I think you are the most important committee at Southwest Airlines." As current chairman and CEO Jerry Kelly would be the first to affirm, the same can be said of Southwest Airlines today.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of McCracken's coverage:

o Dependence on Gurus (Pages 5-15 and 39-40)
o Coca-Cola Company (8-10, 138-141, and 178-179)
o Dan Wieden (17-21)
o Lance Jensen (21-25)
o A.G. Lafley (28-30, 125-127, and 143-144)
o Chris Albrecht (32-36)
o Milton Glaser (36-39)
o Fast and slow cultures and CCOs (41-64)
o Convergence culture and CCOs (61-64)
o CEOs and CCOs (109-112)
o Culture: Breathing out and breathing in (112-117)
o Anthropology (119-120 and 173-178)
o Empathy and CCOs (125-129)
o Branding/Brainstorming (138-143)
o New media (145-150)
o Michael Eisner (155-157)
o Gurus as enemies of culture (161-162)
o Philistines (171-179)

These are among McCracken's concluding observations: "The corporation has been keeping culture at bay for a very long time. Our job is to manage its new spirit of openness. The best way to do this is to demonstrate the value of what we do, as when we supply critical intelligence, help answer the big questions (what business are we in?), see the significance of shifting [especially disruptive] technologies, read sudden changes in consumer taste and preference, sift the perfect storm of the economy for opportunity and danger, and perform better pattern recognition is the first order of business.

"In sum, we are the first generation, and we have to act like one."

I presume to add an observation by Peter Drucker: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Members of the "first generation" to which Grant McCracken refers must keep in mind that most of the greatest barriers to change initiatives are cultural in nature, the result of what Jim O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." It is perhaps possible but highly unlikely that an organization can create and then sustain a living, breathing, thriving enterprise without a CCO who has both authority and responsibility as well as sufficient resources to address "the first order of the day." Without such a commitment, there will be no second order of the day.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon March 24, 2012
Books are always better when you find unexpectedly find yourself in the acknowledgments. That being said, Chief Culture Officer is very good. Grant McCracken is one of a handful of business writers and bloggers who a) has a deep understanding and love for the topics he covers, b) writes about them in an inspiring and unexpected way, and c) isn't a tool. I take a special joy in obscure allusions or connections and I get the feeling that Grant does, too. I really think someone who had previously been completely ignorant about current business thinking could pick up this book and, if they diligently followed every thread and read every book Grant mentioned, leave with a complete understanding. I felt like Grant cited half the books I've read in the last few years. My only criticism is that he regularly got distracted inside of his own book and never finished the stories he started - what happened to the hidden sneaker shop? Someone tell me.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 12, 2010
Fabulous book! Years ago I sat in a graduate anthropology class, fascinated by culture but unable to truly understand how obtuse language and postmodernist theories could illuminate it, or allow us to use knowledge of culture to solve real problems. I ended up not pursuing anthropology academically and instead made a career in online community, where it's really important to understand people who use your site and get what will be popular or viral and what tiny details will matter a lot. I have sometimes worked for big corporations that were not quite living and breathing - it puzzled me how to penetrate the mind of the CFO and CEO and make them understand that we really had to get in the mind of the people using our product. Well, here's a great guide to applying anthropology to the business world - in fact, Grant McCracken shows us that every successful brand will need a Chief Cultural Officer at its helm.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 31, 2015
I am a big fan of Grant McCracken. I've not just enjoyed his books, but gotten some powerful ideas for my professional life from them over the years. I've read McCracken when he's being insightful. I know what that looks like.

Chief Culture Officer does not have the kind of material Grant McCracken writes when he's been insightful. Instead, it's filled with embarrassing ideas that appear to have been made off-the-cuff.

Actually, that's just the kind of flippant approach to business that McCracken suggests in this book that a Chief Culture Officer ought to be following. He suggests that watching reality TV shows like Real Housewives is a good form of ethnographic research. He advocates for the blind groupthink of brainstorming that Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen deftly exposed in their more recent book The Moment of Clarity.

In the closing pages of Chief Culture Officer, McCracken disparages academic anthropologists who have, as a culture, adopted the practice of writing more like irrelevant philosophers than observers of culture. His criticism is right on target, but in this book he has largely over-reacted to anthropology's academic rhetoric of nonsense by embracing the careless style of the worst business writers.

As an alternative to academic anthropological writing, McCracken suggests that people investigating the culture of consumption try to express ideas that are just barely good enough for the moment, but can be easily thrown away. He uses the metaphor of Thor Heyerdahl barely keeping Kon Tiki afloat, and then throwing it away as soon as he makes landfall.

That's not the kind of material that an enduring brand will be made from.

Corporations need Chief Culture Officers, but not the kind of Chief Culture Officers Grant McCracken writes about in this book. There's a happy medium between abstracted academic nonsense and slapdash improvisation. Chief Culture Officers need to be observant and discerning. They need to be able to practice thick description based on how consumers actually live, and not be content with the thin veneer that can be grasped through a passing glance and a few notes scribbled down on Post-It notes.

I could not be more disappointed in this book. Grant McCracken is a brilliant thinker. Read his other books. They're magnificent. Leave this one alone.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 7, 2010
If, like me, you have ever got the feeling that there is something fake or missing in the corporate culture message of the company you work for, than this book is a must have. You will see how culture is the place you go for innovation and for granting your business a competitive advantage.

If, like me, you've seen some of your best work poisoned by "death by committee" than you'll enjoy reading this book. You'll learn how some CEOs have managed to liberate good ideas from bureaucracy.

If, like me, you think you have to do something in your company to grant there is a methodical approach in culture understanding and leveraging , than this book is going to be a great companion for your journey. You'll learn how your company can minimize risks by embracing culture as a vital piece of a business model design.

To Grant McCracken I can simply say: Thank You!

Stefano Somenzi
RtM Consulting
Managing Partner
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 8, 2017
I read quite a bit for personal growth and was hoping for a book that would engage me and help me in shaping culture in my organization. Was a struggle to finish and it left me disappointed.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on May 1, 2015
Great read, insightful stuff for the aspiring corporate cultural architect. The book includes meaningful examples and good ingredients for a success recipe. As a communicator and public relations person I have referred this book several times and have gleaned from its insights. Worth picking up.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 21, 2012
After reading this book I asked myself if I really believed a company needed a CCO. The answer was: not based on the arguments presented here. On the other hand, if you already believe you are one, or need one, it is probably a somewhat helpful read.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 29, 2016
Insightful take on the imperative to integrate into strategic planning
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 19, 2011
Great case studies and interesting perspectives on "slow culture" and pop culture, hiring the right, intuitive people to balance out the office quotient of sometimes over practical and goal oriented managers. Here's a book on long term goals and growing the business in the long run--the rising importance of the role of a "Chief Cultural officer"
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse