February 13, 2009
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - What Would Google Do?
When Jeff Jarvis, founder of the well-followed blog BuzzMachine, had a problem with the customer service provided by Dell, he sparked what would become an Internet firestorm of criticism that engulfed Dell in a customer service (and public relations) nightmare. He begins What Would Google Do? with the story of what Dell did to recover from that disaster--discharging an army of technical assistants into the blogosphere to reply to any problems that might pop up in various posts there. After years of tight message control from the corporate headquarters, allowing their representatives to simply enter the conversation personally to build relationships with Dell users made all the difference. They went from becoming an example of what not to do to being an example of exactly the right thing to do in no time, simply by loosening the controls.
Although Jarvis discusses much more than Google in his book, the title can be explained by the following point on page 68:
In April 2008, just as America was diving into recession, Google announced another amazing and profitable quarter. The New York Times story was headlined, "Google defies economy." It should have read, "Google defines economy."
Jarvis is definitely a disciple (more accurately, a guru) of the paradigm shift that's taken place in the entrepreneurial thinking of new media. The section headings in this book read like the mantras of Silicon Valley and Web 2.0: "Join the open-source, gift economy;" "The post-scarcity economy;" "Free as a business model;" "The mass market is dead--long live the mass of niches." These are no longer heretical or revolutionary ideas, and Jarvis doesn't pretend that they are. What he does is explain these ideas as clearly as possible, detail some of the history that led us to this new frontier, and let you know how to adapt. The good news is that most of traits a company needs to do to be successful in the new economy are the same as what it takes to be a decent human being, including: "Make mistakes well," "Be honest," "Be transparent," "Collaborate," and "Don't be evil."
With the game changing as fast as it is, you should read at least one book a year, probably more, from a leading thinker on the Internet just to keep up. I think Jeff Jarvis has this year covered.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.