Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell A. Nordström, whose book Funky Business attracted so much interest, have written a new book entitled “Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind”. The book explains the methods for surviving in the world of karaoke capitalism. The writers believe that we are living in a karaoke world in which everything is being copied. Television series, news, everybody and everything is imitating something. Now companies have no choice but to be different. They give advice on how to escape from the karaoke bar, be creative and not imitate.
Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell A. Nordström, the writers of Funky Business, which was published about three years ago, have written a new book entitled “Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind”. The book is a manifesto which explains how to survive in the world of karaoke capitalism.
Kjell A. Nordström evaluated the book for Capital and shared with us some interesting observations on companies and the business world.
Could you define karaoke capitalism?
I expect you know what ‘karaoke’ means. You go to a bar and you imitate someone else, a singer. The most interesting thing about a karaoke bar is that nobody behaves in an original way. Everybody copies something, whether it is a singer or something else. In fact, the reason for being there is to imitate.
If we look at automobiles, neither of us can tell the difference between Toyota, Skoda, Volkswagen, Hyundai or Kia. Because these automobile companies copy each other. It is not just them. For example, cafes copy one another. As a result, we are living in a world of copies, where everything is karaoke. Televisions series, the news, everybody and everything is imitating something.
When we decided to give the book this title we wanted to underline that this is a karaoke lifestyle. We want to try to explain how we came to be in this position and we can escape from it.
What suggestions do you have for companies which want to be successful in the new era?
The opposite of karaoke is being original. Whether companies and individuals, anyone who is original is going to be more valuable than ever. As a result, I think that in the new era companies which want to be successful will have, above all, to be ‘original’.
Which companies will have difficulty surviving in this new era and why?
An airline which provides average quality air transportation, average banks which provide average banking products, average distribution companies which offer average products will all face difficulties. Everything which has been designed according to average standards will face difficulties. But an airline which operates at extremely low costs or one which provides very luxurious services will be able to survive and be very successful. Those who fall between these two will find it difficult to survive. Today companies have no choice but to make themselves different. They really need to do this.
You say that, in order to stay competitive, companies have to create information networks in order to tap new, completely different demand. Could you describe these information networks?
Today people in the companies are unaware of many of the innovations that have been created. These are usually ideas which have been created by people outside the company, those in other countries, people who work in completely different ways. Through cooperation these people can create completely new products and services. Establishing an information communications network between yourselves and people in other places can be very useful. Today information is distributed all over the world and you have to locate the information that is useful to you.