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The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets Hardcover – September 10, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Consultants (and "futurists") Mathews and Wacker present a book about cashing in on weird ideas. Defining deviance as "something or someone operating in a defined measure away from the norm," the authors examine the transformation that takes fringe ideas-such as jazz, holistic medicine, and even personal computing-into mass markets. They use examples such as Virgin mogul Richard Branson (whom they call a "poster boy" for deviance, because of his notion that everyday people should be able to have a lifestyle that would normally be closed to them) to show the process of taking a peripheral idea mainstream and applying it to one's business, even addressing the inevitable occurrence of the once-fringe idea becoming cliché. Although laden with trendy made-up words, e.g., "devox" and "prescreen," Mathews's and Wacker's intriguing book is a fun mix of business savvy and social commentary that will surely appeal to the Fast Company crowd.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
... The Deviant's Advantage is a stimulating work. -- Miami Herald
...intriguing .... written in an engaging and often humorous way with a minimum of consultant-speak. -- The New York Times, August 25th 2002
Top customer reviews
If you are someone who likes working in the unclear world of the creative ground breaker, this is a book worth having. If you are afraid of losing or quiting your job for an idea, then leave this alone - it is not your cup of tea at all.
The creative will find the layout challenging but will probably ignore the dead ends and enjoy the journey through the ideas and examples. Worth the money if you are the deviant thinker in the team - you know who you are because all the other people are normal and just want to do the job that the boss wants and you want to deliver what the boss (and the customer) really needs.
But the idea of deviance should invite some ambivalence. Hugh Hefner is being celebrated in the book has having been a successful deviant by taking Playboy from a fringe idea to a mainstream household name but let's remember the fallout from this as well. Ironically, the concept of the smart "girl next door" Playboy Bunny Girl might have been trying to market the idea of an empowered woman, but it did little to erase male chauvinism and discrimination towards those females until the women's liberation movements protested and had Hef change the rules.
In short, a book for discussion and don't limit it to sociology 101. I've given it 3 stars for the authors' tendencies to ramble on and on in mumbo jumbo linguistics instead of getting quickly to the main point.
In other words, what began "operating in a defined measure away from the norm" eventually becomes the norm and thus vulnerable to something else "operating in a defined measure away from the norm" which eventually....You get the idea. Mathews and Wacker describe the voice, spirit, or incarnation of deviance with a neologism, the devox. Used as a metaphor, the devox illustrates that "things have changed -- and continue to change -- at such a rate that conventional language is no longer an effective tool for describing what's going on around around us." Nor can then conventional language describe what has yet to occur. "Remember the first rule of the devox: Nothing's more foolish than conventional wisdom."
Of the ten themes which Mathews and Wacker examine (see pages 10-12), for me the most powerful is what they characterize as "the Abolition of Context" which occurs when Social Convention has eroded to the point at which it loses its authority to define reality for the society it theoretically describes. As context is abolished, the challenge is to build a new culture "and this demands a whole new set of plans and equipment. We need new language to communicate what we're about. We need to get beyond the wisdom of the ages and learn how to embrace the wisdom of the moment. We need to toss out the standards and design new standards." In this context, Mathews and Wacker do not limit their attention to the business world; rather, to the entire global culture within which business is conducted throughout the world. They insist that "real diversity" is all about ideas, perspectives, and sometimes good old fashioned weirdness, not race, age or gender." Deviance will abolish context with or without our permission. "The endgame is that there is no endgame. The goal is permanent transformation, not one-time self-definition."
Mathews and Wacker conclude their book with a brief but insightful analysis of what they call "the public faces of deviance": the Trickster, the Clown, the Wizard or Magician, the Shaman, the Seer, Mystics, Visionaries, the Saboteur, the Provocateur, the Monk, the Hermit, and the Mendicant. "We saved the best deviant for last": the Fool who combines elements of the Clown, the Provocateur, the Saboteur, the Magician, and the Trickster. For those who have not as yet read the book, I realize that these are merely names of creatures who, in an entirely different context, would perhaps torment Batman and Robin. In fact, as Mathews and Wacker carefully explain in the final chapter, they are change agents who -- together -- can help us to initiate and then sustain "permanent transformation." How? Please allow Mathews and Wacker the opportunity to respond to that critically important question.
For many readers, I think this may well be the most thought-provoking book they have read in many years and that may remain true for years to come. Were a higher rating available, I would give it.
This isn't your Daddy's business book - this book won't grant you absolution for your business practices or lifestyle. It is a book that will drive you to view your environment differently - provided you allow it to do so. I read it over and over again for 3 - 4 months. It could trigger differnt thoughts every time I read it. For me this was an important book. Just the understanding of the journey that ideas take from the fringe to social convention was helpful (page 18). Having participated in an industry for the last couple decades that is experiencing this transition, much of the book was relevant to my environment. It has been frustrating to watch good ideas and practices emasculated by corporate clones serving their own agendas. Paradoxically Mathews and Wacker provided context, in a book about the abolition of context, for watching ideas migrate. It also helps understand that the ritualistic emasculation is purely a right of passage administed indiscriminately to all who want to move through.
If you are a person who likes to advise others to think outside the box but can't find your own way out - wrong book. If you are willing to get a little introspective and maybe even shift a paradigm or two this book is a great read. Possibly a significant emotional event.
Most recent customer reviews
What I love about this book is that while it makes a strong case for the importance of deviant thinking in the world of...Read more