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Tuned In — Almost Tuned Out

by David Brock on June 23rd, 2008

I have mixed feelings writing about “Tuned In” by Craig Stull, Phil Myers, and David Scott. I had extremely high expectations of the book—I have such respect for the work they have done. I read their blog, listened to webinars, and waited eagerly for my copy. They recently sent be a proof version, which I read the first evening I received it.

Unfortunately, the book is very disappointing. They have an outstanding, though not original, set of premises, but their coverage is superficial. As one review stated, they seem to focus more on “sound bites” than on substantive exploration of the points they make.

They start by talking about “Tuned In” companies and leaders, seeking to understand their customer’s problems, creating products/services that “resonate.” Not a novel concept — they use the term resonate, another famous consultant uses “Wow,” and there are countless other terms used in the literature. But that’s acceptable, everyone has their own terminology they want to leverage.

They further go on to discuss the concepts being easy to understand, but the challenge comes in the execution–this is where organizations fail to be “Tuned In.” I am expecting the rest of the book to focus in some level of detail about how to execute the principles. This is where the book falls far short of my expectations.

The authors never dive deeply into the issues, giving insight on how they or Tuned In organizations have addressed the issues. For example, they state you have to understand your customers’ problems–both stated and unstated–suggesting interviews to discover this. Correctly, they state it is difficult in an interview to understand unstated problems, but fail to go in depth into how you might discover these.

As another example, they state that greatest opportunities are not likely to lie with your current customers, but with potential customers. A chart in the book shows roughly 70% of the opportunity lies with these potential customers (how they came up with that chart is not supported). To cap it all off, their discussion of the importance of potential customers is 8 sentences long — through the rest of the book they remind you to talk to these, but never assess in depth. Where is the substantive discussion of this premise? Where are the results of the 1000’s of people they claimed to have interviewed?

I could go on with countless examples of lost opportunities to provide real substance, useful to all business leaders. My intent, however, is not to bash the book.

I feel terrible about this review–perhaps my expectations were too high—but a lot of the PR around this book set expectations very high. I have tried to find some redeeming value to the book, wanting to help in some way, but am honestly struggling. Some possibilities:
  • The concepts are interesting, though not novel. However, I find it interesting to see different people’s take on the issues. I always learn something.
  • The examples are interesting–very superficial, but it is interesting to hear how companies apply some of these principles.
  • Because the treatment is superficial, it is a very fast read–so you don’t have to invest a whole lot of time. The most useful thing is the summary at the end of each chapter.
  • You can get the key points of the book by reading the stuff available at the web site and in related materials. You may want to consider that alternative.
  • It’s only $18.45 at Amazon. If you aren’t in a hurry, wait a few months, I’m sure a lot of used copies will come available.
If the authors happen to see this, my apologies. My expectations, based on my respect for your work may have been too high. I know you labored hard on the book. I know there is a lot more substance you could have presented—substance that could be very meaningful to all readers–I wish you had taken the time to present it.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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