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June 11, 2004

News & Opinion: BOOK REVIEW: Corporate Religion

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 1:33 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

Over the past couple of months, my reading list has been dominated by Tom Peters' suggestions. The latest is Corporate Religion by Jesper Kunde. When the book was published in 2000, Kunde got some flak for using the term religion. On the first page of the book, he is very clear that religion is derived from the Latin word religare, meaning to bind something together in common expression.
The whole premise of his book is based on the work psychologist Alfred Alder. Alder believed human personality was formed at the intersection of three conditions:
  • the you as others see you
  • the you as you see yourself
  • the you as you would like to be seen

From the book:
According to Alder, the more these three views harmonize, the stronger one's personality becomes. And with a harmonious personality, there is a corresponding diminution of inner conflicts and misunderstandings between the outside world and the individual. My contention is that exactly the same thing happens in companies. The more harmony there is between the market's view of the company and the company's view of itself- now and for the future- the stronger the company's personality will be. And the more penetration it will exert externally

His focus in the book are international companies. He talks a lot to the Danish or French company that has only operated in its home country and has expanded through partnerships and distributors. Kunde thinks it is dangerous to let subsidiaries operate on their own. He believes it goes against the idea of a company's common expression. To no surprise, he also believe in the power of charismatic leaders bind the company together.
The book seems to have a bit too much consultant speak at times. He has a process that brands go through (Product -> Concept Brand-> Corporate Concept -> Brand Culture -> Brand Religion). There are fancy charts that are suppose to illustrate the importance of coordinating internal and external communication. He uses a radar map to describe the importance of measurements at Toyota.
As I thought about how good the book was I think it fell victim to expectations. First was the Tom Peters recommendation. Second was the joy I had for reading Funky Business (also a TP recommendation). Third, the book is out of print and I had to go search for it. In the end the book was OK. I would give it a 6.4 out of 10.
I want to give the book one more chance. I will send my copy to the first person that emails me (todd [at] 800ceoread [dot] com) and offers to review the book for the 800-CEO-READ blog.