The one-sentence summary
Corporations need a new professional called the Chief Culture Officer, whose job would be to keep a finger on the pulse of contemporary cultural trends.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
- Corporations need a new professional called the Chief Culture Officer, whose job would be to keep a finger on the pulse of contemporary cultural trends.
- This would prevent companies from being caught on the hop as many have, and allow them to see coming changes, even if they currently only exist as weak signals.
- Culture in this context doesn’t mean high art, as in museums, nor does it mean corporate culture. It means the sweep of what people are doing.
- Consumers are smarter than ever, and more intellectually demanding.
- The CCO’s job is to ask questions, talk to anyone who will comment, monitor all the media, and makes guesses and predictions.
- This is all the more important because top management on average spends less than three hours a month discussing strategy issues or making strategic decisions.
- You don’t have to be ‘hip’ to be tuned in to popular culture – it is ‘knowable knowledge’.
- The signals come from fast and slow culture – ‘homeyness’ and rapid fads that suddenly spring up.
- CCOs mustn’t be the hippest person in the room otherwise they will just annoy their colleagues – they need to be unrepentant generalists with the humility to help solve commercial issues or identify opportunities.
- As such they need to consistently scan huge sources of cultural information from magazines and TV programmes, events, field visits, commentators, and much more.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- Noticing + empathy = ethnography. In other words, a CCO has to pay attention, empathise with what’s going on, and then apply it to an audience or phenomenon.
- Convergent culture is when all the elements come together to create a great marketing opportunity – a thermal to ride on. They don’t last long but they are interesting while they do.
- So-called ‘cool hunters’ are the enemy of the CCO. The idea was that spotting a new cult trend six months early would lead to big opportunities, but nobody made any money out of it.
- Things that move online are not ‘viral’ – they don’t move by infection but because we see value in augmenting and communicating them.
- 1 in 5 Americans has never sent an email, so you can’t just apply your own sphere of knowledge to something.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- The examples are all American, so you are either familiar with them or not.
- Depending on how you spend your spare time, any candidate for a CCO job would have to have an obsessive interest in what people do, and spend an inordinate amount of time watching TV.