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Play Zone, The Hardcover – April 27, 2004
From Publishers Weekly
Amidst the legions of books peddling gimmicky sound bites on business management comes this highly complex approach to understanding consumers. Pinault (Consulting Demons) advises applying chaos theory to business and social sciencethrough the youthful art of play (often with LEGOs). "Playfulness," he insists, "can allow the hidden order of chaos to emerge." "Sophisticated, complex structures arise in nature all the time" and with the right creative spark, he supposes, this same self-emergent organization can help businesses understand customer desires and brainstorm new product ideas. All of this innovation occurs in Pinaults "Play Zone"a time and place where local players can globally affect the complex network of consumers by "playing" with various devices he calls "Ubiquitous Tools." For example, a Cabbage Patch Doll stakeholder used "the butterfly effect" in the 1980s when he paid a group of people to fight over the then-obscure toys at a single U.S. store, triggering immediate news coverage and a worldwide sales rush. But Pinualt focuses beyond the low-tech to new tools like Amazon.coms personalized web suggestions for each visitor, which are based on an ever-increasing list of past purchases and searches. To help readers swallow the meaty scientific jargon, the author provides a quick primer on chaos theory in the introductory chapter, while sidebars and flow charts break up the prose, making important concepts slightly easier to digest. The toy graphics and constant reference to the LEGO companys "SERIOUS PLAY" program sometimes make the book read like an advertisement. Still, this is a refreshingly thoughtful book for imagining businesses that agilely adapt to consumer demands.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Challenging...filled with intriguing ideas.” (USA Today)
“A fun and informative read...The intended takeaways of this tome are many.” (International Newspaper Marketing Association)
“An interesting read for managers who value alternative approaches to old disciplines, sparking new insights in the process.” (Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge)
Top customer reviews
He breaks The Play Zone into three main chunks, each one of which carves out important new territory for both consumers and the companies that serve them: 1) An introduction to complexity science - and its applications to organisations - that stands on its own right as one of the finest primers in the area, chock full of examples from nature to business, and of course, shopping; 2) a review of some of the great new tools - and in Play, one of our own, most important intuitive tools - that unlock a new and increasingly necessary means of tackling complexity (the LEGO material is particularly irresistable - where do you get those kits?!) and 3) a future-state view of how key technologies are blending to transform the consumer environment and experience, from biometric scanners to next-gen customer profiling software to miniscule radio-frequency ID tags.
The technology even invades the book. There's a little sticker inside with its own serial number unique to each copy of the book. Check out Pinault's Website theplayzonebook.com for a neat and playful dive into all this stuff, including links to what you can do with the 'electronic product code' serial number.
It's a bit like a Johnny Mnemonic experience, cramming a lot into a little space, both in the book and brain. A long version or workbook might help. Take it when you're awake!