THE PROVOCATEUR: How a New Generation of Leaders Are Building Communities, Not Just Companies

Lawrence Weber, Author, Larry Weber, Author . Crown Business $27.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-609-60826-5

Despite its great title, interesting (although somewhat dated) stories and good writing, most business readers will be disappointed with this book for one simple reason—it emphasizes the wrong material. The new ground broken by Weber, the founder of what Crown describes as "the world's largest public relations firm" (Weber Shandwick Worldwide), deals with how leaders can build communities both inside and outside their companies. But how to do that gets short shrift. Instead, Weber emphasizes an old argument: that the command-and-control structure no longer works inside businesses, and what is needed is decentralization, empowering managers and concentrating on doing everything possible to create a relationship with a customer. There is nothing wrong with Weber—now heading Advanced Marketing Services within the Interpublic Group—arguing for senior managers to become "provocateurs... [people who] believe that the relationship with the customer is at the center of the business, not The Product or The Service." But that has been accepted wisdom by even semi-enlightened executives for years. What all managers want is specific examples of how to do it and a way of quantifying the returns once they do. Weber comes close to providing that a number of times by stressing that senior managers need to be everything from entertainers to educators and sherpas, but the discussion loses force as he veers back to attack an ever-shrinking class of executives who still lead as if they were commanding an infantry battalion. Agent, Jill Kneerim. (Jan. 2)

Forecast:Weber has the PR connections to get his book everywhere, and that's just what Crown's planning to do. An 11-city author tour, online promo to Weber's own firms and advertising are all in the works. Whether that will help the book sell, though, is debatable.

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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