Why do some businesses (or products) seem to launch onto the scene with incredible success?  According to a new book, “Enchantment” releasing March 8, 2011 (available on Amazon.com at about 50% off the list price), it is the ability to go beyond normal marketing, PR and other business practices in a way that enchants customers.  Author Guy Kawasaki says that being likable, trustworthy and prepared allows you to overcome natural resistance to change and move people to accept, adopt – and even become supporters of your solution.

The book is tailor-made for entrepreneurs.  Especially those in high-tech, who are looking for rapid adoption of new platforms.  So when Guy sent me a copy and asked for my review I asked him for a 1-on-1 interview where I could focus on how the vast majority of people, who work away in large, less than enchanting, organizations, could gain value from reading his latest effort.  I wanted him to answer “how am I supposed to be enchanting when dullness reigns in my environment?” 

Here’s his finput from our meeting, and his reasons to buy and read Enchantment:

Guy’s first recommendation – “enchant your boss.”  There’s a chapter in the book, but he focused on what to do if your boss is a real dullard.  Firstly, don’t ever forget to make the boss’s priority your priority, because without that you won’t be effective.  The more you can convince your boss the 2 of you are on the same wavelength, the more he’ll be likely to give you space.  And space is what you want/need in order to start to identify the next perfomance curve.  Then, if you have some space, you can start to demonstrate how new solutions could work.  Use your aligned priorities to help you reframe your boss’s opinion about the future, and always ask for forgiveness if you’re found reaching a bit too far.

Secondly, enchant those who work for you.  Give them a MAP.  (M) is for Mastery of a new skill or technology.  Give your employees permission and encouragement to master new areas that will help them grow – and put them in a position to teach you! (A) is for Autonomy. In other words, give them the space discussed above. (P) is for Purpose.  Help people to see their work as having more value than just money.  Add purpose to their results so they can feel great. With a MAP they can succeed, and you can too.

Thirdly, enchant your peers by working hard to be likable. Guy offers a chapter in which he deconstructs likability, and provides a series of tactics to make you more likable.  This isn’t manipulation (although it may sound like it), but rather a guidebook of what to do to help your true self be more likable.  With peers, the #1 objective is to be trustworthy!  Show them that you can help expand the pie, so there is more success for everyone, rather than being the kind of person always lining up to get his piece first!

When you find yourself disappointed in your work, or employer, Guy recommends we take from his book the idea that you seek out a dream for what your work group, or employer, can be.  Don’t accept that today is the best case, and instead promote the notion that tomorrow can always be better, more fun, more fulfilling.  He believes that if you say you’re going to do something that seems impossible, and you undertake it with enchanting techniques, your behavior will become infectious. Behave like an enchanter and you will create other enchanters in the organization.  (If this sounds a bit Pied Piper-ish I guess it does take some faith to follow Guy’s recommendations.)

I asked him how a Chief Enchantment Officer could help Microsoft (readers of this blog know I’ve long been a distractor of the strategy and CEO at Microsoft).  Guy said he felt Micrsoft could become VERY enchanting if the company would:

  • Focus on making Micrsooft more likable and trustworthy.  Old behaviors were in the past.  Going forward, if leadership applied itself Microsoft could implement the things in his book and drive up the company’s likability and trustworthiness amongst constituents – including customers, developers, suppliers and investors.
  • Rethink the definition of a “product” to make offerings more enchanting.  In Guy’s view, Apple would never say a product is good enough based upon its specifications or functionality.  An iPad has to go beyond those things to offer something much more.  Too many companies (not just, or even specifically, Microsoft he was clear to point out) launch “ugly” products – without realizing they are ugly!  With a bit different direction, different thinking, about how to define a product they could be more enchanting, and more successful.  (When I compare the iPhone or iPad to the xBox I start to clearly see the difference in product description to which Guy refers. Guy agreed with me that Kinect is a very enchanting product. Unfortunately it appears to me like Microsoft still doesn’t realize the value of this in its xBox efforts.)
  • Train the organization on the importance of, value of, and ability to be enchanting.  Most companies are clueless about the notion, as people work hard delivering solutions with too much of an “engineering mentality”.  Apple has trained its organization so the people think about how to make products, services and solutions enchanting, and therefore non-enchanting things are unacceptable.  Raise the bar for making sure solutions are likable, trustworthy and prepared for what the customer will want/need.  Not merely functional.  Build that into the behavioral lock-in and Guy believes any organization cannot miss success!

I told Guy that often I’m frequently pushed to believe that a company is “beyond the pale;” unable to do better, or to be better.  Simply incapable fo ever being “enchanting.”  Guy is convinced this is balderdash – if you want to change.  He talked about Audi, which suffered horribly from problems with unintended acceleration a couple of decades ago.  Audi changed itself, and now is doing quite well (according to Guy) while Toyota is suffering.  It’s easy for an organization to slip into dis-enchanting behavior over time if it starts cost-cutting and obsessing about optimizing its past.  But any company can become enchanting again.  “Hey, look at how Apple slipped, then came back, and you can see how enchantment is possible for any company.”

I don’t know that Enchantment will solve all your business problems, but for $14 (and free shipping on Amazon.com) it’s full of ideas about how you can move a company to better performance.  And surely make it a better, more compelling place to work!

Guy Kawasaki became famous as a Macintosh Evangelist for Apple back in the 1980s.  His passion for creating technology products that help people’s lives, and work, improve, has been compelling for 2 decades.  His blog is entitled “How to Change the World,” demonstrating how high Guy sets his sites.  Guy also created and remains active in Alltop.com, a compendium of blog listings on important topics, where ThePhoenixPrinciple.com is part of the Innovation section.