Book Review: Positioning: How To Test, Validate, And Bring Your Idea To Market

Sramana Mitra has plotted out a series of books on various aspects of entrepreneurial activity with regard to its effects on management and on the general economy. They all are formed around interviews with entrepreneurs whose experiences illustrate the main theme of each volume.

The first was an overview of the elements of the entrepreneurial process. The next, “Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction,” reviewed here, was targeted at the value of avoiding over-leveraging a new enterprise, but was found to reveal a good bit more about how such a focus drove intelligent, disciplined management.

After the current volume are scheduled two more, one on entrepreneurial innovation, and the capstone on the meaning of all of this for India (although it should be noted that most of the activity in those published so far takes place in the United States, and is generated by entrepreneurs from all around the US and the world). This is proving to be a most enlightening series, of interest far beyond those with a direct stake in this segment of economic activity.

For example, the present volume, “Positioning,” is directed at the problem of clarifying your market and the solution you are offering it. And the book does a terrific job of drawing concise and powerful advice about this from its numerous interviewees – all of whom are successful entrepreneurs whose stories are of significant value in their own right.

For these reasons alone, it is an effective, immediately applicable read for virtually any manager. Many authors approach the topic of positioning abstractly, or by building a book around a few case studies of major marketers. But in this volume, Mitra lets numerous entrepreneurs of a wide range of demographic and socio-economic backgrounds share their unadorned experiences and hard-won lessons learned while struggling nose-to-nose with the problem for their very organizational survival. The result is vivid, striking, and wise advice that managers at all levels will profit from.

But that points to another feature that I have found to be especially valuable in this series, although perhaps not specifically intended. This is the no-nonsense approach to management that these entrepreneurs, forced to sail so harrowingly close to the wind, are compelled to learn and to apply so effectively in their rapidly growing companies.

There is no chin-stroking, skyward gazing theorizing going on here. Reading this book will underline for you how only large organizations who may have essentially lost their way, and who have the resources to deceive themselves about the meaning of the wind spilling out of their sails, can afford the destructive luxury of such musing about the latest fads.

These entrepreneurs have no time for that. They have to produce results – not just to stay afloat, but to stay ahead of gathering winds seeking to fill the sails of their successful organizations. This results in unexpected – but inevitable – sharp insights about not just the power of positioning, but of managing everything essential to a viable, growing operation – especially its people.

And on top of all that, you will learn more about SaaS and, of especial value, gain an insider’s view of cloud computing’s growing influence in business. The author suggests that these developments, combined with intelligent positioning, may ultimately bring about the demise of the mighty low-cost oriented outsourcing phenomenon, hitting India particularly hard.

Another gem by Sramana Mitra. Pick up your copy of “Positioning” today – and keep a sharp eye out for the next in the series – enjoy!

Today’s tip: Speaking of unexpected results, who would have thought that the current global financial crisis would help launch Europe – widely derided as hopelessly sclerotic – ahead of the more dynamic, innovative, and productive United States? Please see this piece from Newsweek explaining why this may well be in the cards.

Did you know you can now read the Managing Leadership Blog on your Kindle? Amazon makes it incredibly easy, so give it a try!

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