The one-sentence summary
Businesses can be thoroughly distinctive and commercially successful if they pursue principles rather than just money.
• Business doesn’t have to be cold and unforgiving. Businesses are made up of people who come together to achieve more than is possible individually.
• In fact, taking this more thoughtful approach can be more distinctive – hence the book’s subtitle The hard art of standing apart.
• Over a series of case histories the book lays out five hallmarks that create success. These are:
• Integrity: beautiful businesses have a clear sense of purpose – a noble, unwavering belief that translates into firm principles for how to succeed.
• Curiosity: they do not stand still – they are restless, brave, intrepid, and constantly creating surprise.
• Elegance: they are pleasurably simple, finding intelligent ways of doing things, and understanding that persuasive presentation is a prerequisite for performance.
• Craft: they apply consideration to every last detail, no matter how small – beauty does not happen without devotion.
• Prosperity: they have a strong sense of value creation, and make positive contributions to all associated with them.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
• Each component is then broken down into four qualities that you can try to apply:
• Integrity: build around a purpose, embrace sacrifice, be authentic, commit openly.
• Curiosity: exercise imagination, redefine convention, encourage challenge, learn how to fail.
• Elegance: please through economy, design with empathy, demonstrate poise, invite interpretation.
• Craft: connect through stories, apply the human hand, develop a signature style, create a sense of theatre.
• Prosperity: care about people, establish a legacy, value what matters, assert influence.
• Rigorous examination of these 20 facets would provide a good template for most brands and companies.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
• Case histories can be polarising in books – there are 20 here, which is either great because you can pick out what you like from a wide range, or far too many to wade through.