The Play Zone: Unlock Your Creative Genius and Connect with Consumers

Lewis Pinault, Author
Lewis Pinault, Author HarperBusiness $25.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-06-662101-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Paperback - 978-0-06-662102-9
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Amidst the legions of books peddling gimmicky sound bites on business management comes this highly complex approach to understanding consumers. Pinault (Consulting Demons) advises applying chaos theory to business and social science--through the youthful art of play (often with LEGOs).""Playfulness,"" he insists,""can allow the 'hidden order' of chaos to emerge.""""Sophisticated, complex structures arise in nature all the time"" and with the right creative spark, he supposes, this same self-emergent organization can help businesses understand customer desires and brainstorm new product ideas. All of this innovation occurs in Pinault's""Play Zone""--a time and place where local players can globally affect the complex network of consumers by""playing"" with various devices he calls""Ubiquitous Tools."" For example, a Cabbage Patch Doll stakeholder used""the butterfly effect"" in the 1980s when he paid a group of people to fight over the then-obscure toys at a single U.S. store, triggering immediate news coverage and a worldwide sales rush. But Pinualt focuses beyond the low-tech to new tools like Amazon.com's personalized web suggestions for each visitor, which are based on an ever-increasing list of past purchases and searches. To help readers swallow the meaty scientific jargon, the author provides a quick primer on chaos theory in the introductory chapter, while sidebars and flow charts break up the prose, making important concepts slightly easier to digest. The toy graphics and constant reference to the LEGO company's""SERIOUS PLAY"" program sometimes make the book read like an advertisement. Still, this is a refreshingly thoughtful book for imagining businesses that agilely adapt to consumer demands.
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