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War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don't See Eye-to-Eye--and What to Do About It Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Father and daughter marketing experts and bestselling authors of The Fall of Advertising, the Rieses explore the gulf between management and marketing and show why this gulf is bad for business, customers and the economy. They demonstrate how the two groups think differently: management deals in reality (left brain), while marketing deals in perception (right brain). This dichotomy extends to every facet of operation, including product versus brand, better versus different products and communicating versus positioning. The authors use a multitude of company examples from Booz Allen Hamilton, McDonald's, Pepsi and MasterCard to elucidate their points, showing how the two groups approach vital issues such as growth, competition and branding, underscoring the need for both marketing and management to understand the other side's perspective and priorities. The Rieses are persuasive in their argument, examining tried-and-true brands as well as those that have faded. Entertaining and enlightening, this book has much for executives and managers at all levels to ponder. (Mar.)
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“[M]arketing folks should learn to speak in left-brain terminology. The book is a good place to start lessons. Examples are well-explained and down-to-earth. As for managers, even the most logical and analytical types should be able to see the reasoning behind ‘marketing sense.’” (USA Today)
“The Rieses are persuasive in their argument.... Entertaining and enlightening, this book has much for executives and managers at all levels to ponder.” (Publishers Weekly)
“[The Rieses’] engaging arguments are presented in a simple-to-read format, and the examples are persuasive.” (Harvard Business Review)
Top customer reviews
I give this book a strong 3 stars. The message was good and it should be read by Marketers and Sales. The message stating the companies should stay focused and not stray away from their direction is absolutely correct. BUT there were several inherent flaws in this message and the way this book was written:
1. I thought it was presumptuous the way they made the Management look like idiots and the markets always being right. As someone working in the international hi-tech market for 20 years, this couldn't be further from the truth. Without going into details, Marketers do not always see the big picture and get caught up in the message and not the reality. Products are sold based on reality and events on the ground. Marketers are usually disconnected from end customers, specific regions and distribution channels. This book did not touch about any of those specifics.
2. The book only focused on Fortune 500 companies. What about us who work in smaller companies? The book totally ignored us.
3. Darwin theory - Darwin's theory is so true with species as it is with businesses. A company that is too focused can make itself extinct when the environment changes or shifts. They brought the example of Blackberry but the book was unable to see its future failure. They were so focused on business handsets that they totally over looked the smart phone and now with the environment changing they are about to become extinct. Here Management can play a great role of having the ability to steer a company when the market shifts or changes. The book totally ignores this fact.
4. Really did not focus on hi tech. There were too many car company examples.
Besides that, the book is written clear and easy to comprehend and there are many good lessons to be learned.
These two authors know how to write. There's not a dull page to be found. Instead, the book overflows with dozens of lively, real-world examples clearly demonstrating the difference between management and marketing -- and where right-brainers or left-brainers have taken their brands for better or worse. And the authors aren't shy about assessing and making predictions about some of today's marquee brands such as Google and Amazon. It's an interesting, fun read.
More literal-minded readers -- left-brainers -- might be disappointed that final chapters aren't devoted to by-the-numbers directions on what to do about the problems of divided brains in the boardroom. But right-brainers -- in fact anybody who pays attention -- will instantly understand that every chapter in the book and the myriad examples provide the case studies on what works and what doesn't work.
If you're on the management side, read and heed. And if you're on the marketing side do as the authors suggest and use the well-written case histories as analogies to help educate top management and sell your concepts.
While Al and Laura Ries touch on the edge of the subject, the important takeaway from the book is that it provides a good orientation for you to find the common ground between management, marketing and sales that will drive sustained results for a company. Combine this book with Simplified Strategic Planning by Bradford, Duncan & Tarcy to get the ammo you will need to understand where all sides are coming from to communicate your position in your next meeting or next project.