SAVVY : Bookcase – Fl!p

• Peter Sheahan
• Random House
• $39.99

I have to admit my heart sank when the first chapter detailed how the young Aussie author whose previous book put both Gen Y and himself on the global map, had ‘flipped’ Phoenix audience of previously bored business suits. And followed that with advising he’s been nicknamed the ‘Mohawk in the Boardroom’ because that’s the business level at which he works. But that’s Gen Y for you – self promotion for himself, his previous books/talks or successive chapters of this book burble up throughout. As I read on, both the enthusiasm and insights pulled me in.
Peter Sheahan’s thesis in Fl!p, due for release here this month, is that “counter-intuitive thinking is changing everything – from branding and strategy to technology and talent”. In some ways it’s companion to Frans Johansson’s book about using diversity to drive innovation (The Medici Effect). The basic message is that the best way to stay ahead in rapidly changing world is to play liberally with perspective. What will define the successful businesses and leaders of the future, says Sheahan, is “mindset flexibility, not proprietary expertise or resources”.
With an overarching theme of inclusivity (“and” rather than “either/or”) he explores six major flips of mindset: “why fast, good, cheap, pick 3” (preferably plus the ‘x’ factor) has become the price of entry in most markets; how superficial is anything but; why business is personal; why there is no wisdom in crowds (if you want to stand out or take lead); how you get control (or possibly influence) by giving it up – great message for the micro-managers out there; and why action precedes clarity.
These are examined in the light of the “four forces of change”: increasing compression of time and space; increasing complexity; increasing transparency and accountability; and increasing expectations on the part of everyone for everything.
Accounts of “flipstars” include many of the usual poster companies for innovation – Toyota, Apple, Virgin – but also trawl through more recent examples of real companies making commercial ventures into virtual worlds. In June 2007, for example, five major companies held neojobs meeting on Second Life – 100 percent virtual interviews for 100 percent real jobs.
As well as providing very readable romp through trends and tales of changing times, Sheahan offers practical suggestions after each chapter – five things to do now (or 10 following his chapter on doing things differently) that deserve response in line with the advice he delivers in his last chapter – “get up off your butt and do something”.

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