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Book in review: Karaoke Capitalism

| Text: Gunhild Wallin

We live in the time of individualism. Grab the microphone and express your unique personality. Welcome to Club Karaoke Capitalism, where talent, originality and/or money creates freedom of choice like never before. At least for some.

Karaoke CapitalismThis development demands a new way of thinking from leaders and businesses. It is not sufficient to do as the others do.You have to create something unique, claims authors Kjell A Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle, in their newly released book ”Karaoke capitalism - Management for mankind” (Bookhouse Publishing). 

Both authors are Swedish, with PhDs from the Stockholm School of Economics.They had their international breakthrough in 1999 with their last book, "Funky Business – Talent makes capital dance". 250.000 copies of the book were sold, and it was translated into 32 languages. Kjell A. Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle are considered to be among the top European "business gurus", and they are sought after – and well paid – lecturers.

In their new book they take the reader on a journey.The reader is brought at break-neck speed into a time-warp of change, which lets no individual or business aiming for the top a second of rest.With sharp opinions and straight talking they shake up every reader who perhaps somewhat indolently seeks solutions in established truths and structures. Forget it! The challenge is to avoid imitation and dare to be innovative. 

Businesses which want to succeed will live in a war fought on two fronts. On the one side they will need to attract the best talents, and to make them want to stay.These are the winners of the future, according to Kjell A Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle. They are the ones with the endless choices and the ones who can move to wherever they fancy in the world. They are the ones who are going to create the originality which separates the grain from the chaff.

"Benchmarking" is no longer enough. Everybody is going to invest in technology or move to cheaper countries.What's important is to get to the unique ideas, in other words to get to the individuals who have the capacity to think fresh and create new things.When they're not happy they just take their brains and competence elsewhere. 

"Leaders and politicians will be forced to learn how to deal with people who are free to learn, act, travel and stay", as the authors put it.The relationship between employers and these employees is changing. The power balance shifts to the desirable employees. 

At the same time businesses have to deal with a new type of knowledgeable consumer. Today's customer knows what he or she wants, and businesses must start listening to the customers. Competition is knife sharp and profit margins are small. A business must prosper in the intersection between the competent customer and the desirable employee. That requires new leadership and new organisational structures. Innovation will demand communication and yet more communication. Openness is the key word, along with networking. Everybody has access to information, and now it is how that information is used which creates the competitive edge. 

More and more we are buying dreams rather than products.We are drawn towards stories, both as consumers and as employees. So it is down to businesses to deliver an attractive story.They will create success through our emotions.They want to get to our inner selves. 

But far from everyone has access to the coveted club. Capitalism has its price, and if we want it to show pity rather than throw a curse, we need to show our individual responsibility.We get the capitalism we deserve, the authors write

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