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Paperback - 256 pages 1st edition (April 15, 2000)
Oh dear. A book called Funky Business by two Swedish academics. At first glance, it has all the allure of Benny and Bjorn's (from Abba) sadly never-released concept album about life as a middle manger in a multinational conglomerate. There is something earnestly hip about the way Kjell Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle of the Stockholm School of Economics present themselves. "They do gigs not seminars. These gigs sell out. They have shaved heads and wear black," says the blurb.
But that's what makes Funky Business worth reading. It's not so much the novelty of the authors' argument, which boils down to the notion that in an oversupplied world, ideas are what separate successful companies and individuals from failures. Rather, it's the vitality of their argument and the rhythm of their language that make their ideas so compelling. "Traditional roles, jobs, skills, ways of doing things, insights, strategies, aspirations, fears, and expectations no longer count. In this environment, we cannot have business as usual. We need business as unusual. We need different business. We need innovative business. We need unpredictable business. We need surprising business. We need funky business."
The book, which is almost a virtuoso display of rhetoric and intellectual power, bursts at the seams with the force of its argument and the weight of its colorful evidence. Sources quoted range from the pope to the British band the Prodigy. Funky, Inc., they say, "isn't like any other company. It is not a dull, old conglomerate. It is not a rigid bureaucracy. It is an organization that actually thrives on the changing circumstances and unpredictability of our times."
This is great entertainment. But the slick veneer does not invalidate the way the book pulls together many existing strands of thought about how business is developing and evokes a coherent and intriguing vision of a future whose main feature will be incoherence.
This really is one for the whole family. Or at least those old enough to have a job.