Following the runaway succeeder of business and marketing best vender Eating The Big Fish, Adam Morgan has now brought us the next stage of his vision in The Pirate Inside – Building a Challenger brand culture inside yourself and your organisation.
What Morgan sets call at The Pirate Inside is a clear and very legible guide to exchanging a tradition-led and unwieldy corporate model for that of a sleeker — and more succeederful — Challenger culture. As such, The Pirate Inside is a manual for anyone who has felt that they could build something more from their brand, were it not for the somemultiplication-shortsighted demands of direction or shareholder.
Although in recent multiplication the construct of the Challenger business has become an established component in the marketing lingo, it’s worth revisiting Morgan’s own definition before going any further into The Pirate Inside. According to Morgan, a Challenger is a brand or company that positions itself in such a way as to contend succeederfully against one or more clear market leaders, despite the unfairness of its available resource. Moreover, the Challenger achieves this by refusing to obey some or all of the traditional ‘rules’ of its category or market.
Where Eating The Big Fish sought-after to detail the behaviour and attitudes that belong to a succeederful Challenger, The Pirate Inside concerns itself with the practicalities of the transformation into such a brand or business. Morgan makes no assumption that his reader is intimately acquainted Eating The Big Fish, instead ensuring that an analysis of processes and requirements is combined with a wide range of case studies to provide a step-by-step path for the reader towards achieving the key aspects of a Challenger culture and attitude.
Having said that, The Pirate Inside takes for granted that the reader knows enough of the advantages and disadvantages of the Challenger business model to recognise its value to his business. As such, the book spends little time extolling the virtues of a Challenger approach per se, although exceptions occur at those points where Morgan seeks to aid the reader in implementing a greater understanding of its benefits inside his own organisation.
The book’s title is taken from a comment made by Steve Jobs during an interview that: “It’s more fun to be a Pirate than to join the Navy.” Although Morgan could be accused from time to time of working the metaphor a little too strenuously, his second of it for The Pirate Inside is generally very succeederful. He opens by asking what attracts so many of us to the idea of pirating — the freedom, and dangers, of life outside convention — and follows this by examining the factors that prevent us from striking out on such a career path. These factors are summarised in what Morgan calls: “The Six Excuses People Put Up For Staying In The Navy — doing the same as everyone else has always done.”
At the same time, The Pirate Inside sets dead set take Jobs’ statement a step further, disputation that it is possible to combine the two cultures of pirate and navy. Morgan accepts that patc there will always be born ‘pirates’ such as Jobs or Branson, the majority of us are far less comfortable with the idea of trading security inside an established company for the risks of business life as the captain of our own ship. It is a key insight, and so one fault of the book is mayhap that Morgan could afford to be more explicit in his rebutter of this ‘either/or’ mindset.
A primary construct inside The Pirate Inside is that for a brand to succeed as Challenger depends upon its people adopting a new ‘personal and cultural model’. At this point it is worth digressing to note that, throughout the book, Morgan insists that we view such an action as: “the deliberate move from one less suitable and succeederful…model to other that is more appropriate to the chance for the brand.” Even pirates, it seems, have some rules.
Be this as it may, the inclusion of the ‘personal’ is central to Morgan’s exposition — throughout the book he makes it clear that such a change cannot fall out without a significant commitment from the potential catalyst; both to his brand and to a possibly high degree of personal exposure. This is not a book from which the reader can come away with a couple of sententious phrases and an exercise or two, secure in his mind that he has thereby done right by his business. Instead, The Pirate Inside aims to help those of us who have thought longingly of shifting paradigms, break moulds and smashing parameters, but have little or no idea of how to approach such violent pursuits.
To answer that question, Morgan has enclosed case studies from both the UK and the US, drawn from a diverse selection of industries. In doing so, he ensures that well-nig the most wide read of us will take something new away. Interviews with the key personnel behind each example provide valuable insight, not only into the brands and businesses concerned, but also into the personalities that are drawn to offer such commitment to them.
If nothing else, even the most blasÃ© of readers should enjoy the anecdotes and lessons supplied by some of these industry leaders, demonstrating that even the best business minds haven’t always had plain sailing. For the rest of us, The Pirate Inside is a book that offers marketers from any industry or background a business vision to be proud — and far less grounds than before to justify abandoning it.