FL!P : Book Review: V2 Issue 2

Title: FL!P

Author: Peter Sheahan

Publication details: HarperCollins Publishers, India, April 2008

Number of pages:326 pages

Wondering why your current business idea or career move is not working as well as it used to. Maybe it’s time to flip your thinking on it. Peter Sheahan is the author of the groundbreaking book ‘Generation Y: Thriving (and Surviving) with Generation Y at Work’. And in his new book ‘Flip’ he gives a formula for succeeding in today’s business context by turning everything you know on its head.

The book begins by describing the four forces of change today viz., increasing compression of time and space; increasing complexity; increasing transparency and accountability; and increasing expectation on the part of everyone for everything. These changes require you to reexamine every aspect of running a company to continue being successful.  

The book highlights what today’s successful businesses and ‘flipstars’ such as Richard Branson, Google, Toyota, Rupert Murdoch and Apple have in common. It is an ability to 'flip' conventional thinking about business and then act boldly.  A limit was put by the government on premiums that could be charged. So, Progressive car insurance from offering insurance only to high risk drivers at high premiums started offering insurance to all drivers at widely varying premiums. Most players were talking about work-life balance. But Macquarie Bank during recruitment said, “Say goodbye to your friends...family. You are not going to see them for ten years. But when you do, you will be rich!” Both companies are highly successful today.

Scattered across the book is counterintuitive wisdom on doing business. To meet expectations about our products or services, just picking being two of the three ie., fast, cheap or good,  is not enough. The book says “Think And, Not Or.” We must pick all three and something more. The more could come from being green, easy, healthy etc. Luxury car Lexus makes things easy for its user by arranging to pick up the car for service, leaving a replacement to use, returning the car clean with chocolates on the front seat and getting free parking. While talking about “To Get Control, Give It Up” the book says “You should tap into the brilliance that individuals don’t work for you have, whether they be customers, bored scientists in academia or teenage kids with an idea about how to advertise your product better”.  Another flip mentioned is “Action Precedes Clarity” ie., acting in spite of ambiguity.

The book also contains valuable conventional wisdom. Design the total ownership experience for customers by incorporating service, form, functionality and story. It talks about how Apple iPod‘s marketing slogan “A thousand songs in your pocket” told the story of what it would do for customers in daily life. What I liked best about the book are the numerous such industry examples ranging from Microsoft to the company dealing with Lonely Planet Travel guide books. It also gives a glimpse of the current business and workplace trends like the use of social networking tools, competing companies working with each other, Gen Y employees seeking more empowerment etc.

The book is full of interesting tips and suggestions. For example the suggestion made in the book for finding new ideas for your product or service ---“…contact with fringe areas of society where new ideas percolate…This is why Nike assiduously tracks trends within minority urban communities, striving to identify what suburban consumers will later buy in even greater quantities.” Each chapter ends with 'to do' lists for readers.

While this book is a must read for business owners, decision makers and marketing professionals, it is also a book for people looking for inspiration to do something different in their lives. I think it is apt to end this review with the words used by the author at the end of the book “Get up off your butt and do something!!!”