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Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation [Hardcover]

Grant McCracken


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Book Description

Dec 1 2009
Levi-Strauss, the jeans and apparel maker, missed out on the hip-hop trend. They didn’t realize that those kids in baggy jeans represented a whole new—and lucrative—market opportunity, one they could have seen coming if they had but been paying attention to the shape of American culture.

Levi Strauss isn’t alone. Too many corporations outsource their understanding of culture to trend hunters, cool watchers, marketing experts, consulting firms, and, sometimes, teenage interns. The cost to Levi-Strauss was a billion dollars. The cost to the rest of corporate America is immeasurable.

The lesson? The American corporation needs a new professional. It needs a Chief Culture Officer.

Grant McCracken, an anthropologist who now trains some of the world’s biggest companies and consulting firms, argues that the CCO would keep a finger on the pulse of contemporary cultural trends—from sneakers to slow food to preppies—while developing a systematic understanding of the deep waves of culture in America and the world. The CCO’s professionalism would allow the corporation to see coming changes, even when they only exist as the weakest of signals.

Delightfully authoritative, trenchantly on point, bursting with insight and character, Chief Culture Officer is sure to expand your horizons—and your business.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic (Dec 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465018327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465018321
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #449,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Seth Godin, author of Tribes & Purple Cow
“The title of this book is a lie. It's not merely for companies that decide they need a Chief Culture Officer, or even just for those who aspire to that job. It's for you. Right now. If your job involves marketing, inventing, selling or simply investing in companies that make stuff, this book is a must read.”

John Deighton, Brierley Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
“For those who are open to its thrall, Chief Culture Officer will change the trajectory of their lives.”

Faris Yakob, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Strategist, McCann Erickson New York
“In Chief Culture Officer, Grant McCracken highlights the increasing importance of cultural understanding for brands that wish to remain relevant—and profitable—in the protean flux of the modern marketplace, as he carves out a new role for the 21st century corporation. The best marketers can hope for is to create something that resonates so strongly it becomes part of our cultural fabric. This book is an indispensable tool for achieving that goal.”

Tyler Cowen, author of
Create Your Own Economy
“I have deep admiration and respect for Grant McCracken, a nimble thinker who combines a mastery of marketing, culture, anthropology, and modern business practice. Chief Culture Officer has many lessons for anyone interested in understanding how to run a successful business in the early 21st century. It will prove one of the most stimulating books of the year.”

Philip Kotler, author of Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence
“Marketing gets failing grades when it comes to understanding and using culture. In Chief Culture Officer—a delectable cultural soup that is sure to stir your taste buds—Grant McCracken makes a compelling case that culture will be marketing’s next silver bullet. I whole-heartedly endorse his call for bringing culture-thinking into the company.”

Ben Casnocha, author of My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey through Silicon Valley
“This is a marvel of a business book: highly entertaining, original, and provocative. Entrepreneurs who want to understand their customers, target market, and the cultural dynamics that shape the business world—which is to say all entrepreneurs—need to read it.”

Richard Grefé, CEO, AIGA | the professional association for design
“Grant McCracken, once again, sees clearly the patterns in which innovation, enterprise, and smart people can influence change, create value, and respond to popular culture, where real people experience choice. The book is terrific and spot on.”

Marian Salzman, partner and chief marketing officer, Porter Novelli
“Grant McCracken has cracked the holy grail of what’s next to blend talent management, corporate strategy, and trendspotting, and his storytelling style captivates and educates. I am blown away.”

Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
“Building on decades of eye-opening research into the culture of consumption, Grant McCracken demonstrates why many companies get blindsided by cultural factors that were hidden in plain view, and offers a compelling argument for why they need to bring cultural expertise into their executive suite. Here's hoping more corporate executives hear his call.”

About the Author

Grant McCracken is a Research Affiliate at C3 at MIT. He earned his PhD in anthropology at the University of Chicago and was the founding Director of the Institute of Contemporary Culture. He has taught at Cambridge University, McGill University, and the Harvard Business School. He consults with an array of companies, including Campbell Soup, Coke, L’Oreal, IBM, and the Children’s Television Workshop. He has written nine academic books and his work has been covered by Oprah, the New York Times, the LA Times, Newsweek, and BusinessWeek. He lives in Connecticut.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism Meets Culture Jan. 12 2010
By Shara J. Karasic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A must read, but must not read all of it April 27 2010
By R. G. Porter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's a great idea, with a few good examples of having an ear on culture to truly bring positive change to society and profit to corporations, and a lot of examples of corporations appropriating and exploiting culture. A lot of the examples were just successful marketing campaigns -- things like Coca-Cola and the "Coke side of Life", and Nike's "Just do it", un-inspirational marketing campaigns. Some were good, too, like Dove's campaign.
My main problem with this book is it seems to take too defensive of a stance. If you are convinced a CCO is a good idea after the first couple chapters (or before you buy the book), the rest of the book is basically filler. I would have much preferred a far shorter book with far fewer examples and more about two-way relationships between corporations/business and culture.
My message here is not "don't buy it", but that some may not need the whole book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it! Jan. 7 2010
By Stefano Somenzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mining the Culture Jan. 3 2010
By Bill O'Connor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book that delivers principles and examples of the processes that are used to create and manage strong brands. If, as Dr. McCracken argues, the prevailing culture is the locus of the values that shape consumer attitudes, then this is the book that offers insights into how to mine the culture to get to those values. It presents a strong case why corporations should have a senior manager dedicated to mining the culture. An enjoyable read filled with great stories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Difference-Making Organizations Jan. 26 2010
By Mark C. Howell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're in the business of breaking free from the status quo...Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation is a must read. Because we're all trying to have impact, it makes sense to invest in developing a better, more comprehensive understanding of how to read the culture and then craft offerings to meet real needs and interests.

I like McCraken's awareness that there really are two angles to mastering culture. It helps "discover advantage, opportunity and innovation while making us alert to "cataclysmic change." If I'm leading an organization committed to making a difference, I've got to develop that awareness. This is a book that will help you do both.

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