Dare to be Different

The book provides dollops of encouragement to professionals to turn any adversity into opportunity.

Storm the Norm By Anisha Motwani (PAGES: 320; PRICE: Rs 500) Rupa Publications Storm the Norm By Anisha Motwani (PAGES: 320; PRICE: Rs 500) Rupa Publications

I've known Anisha for a while now and have always admired her massively innovative yet measurement-driven marketing mind. I was one of the first people who read her book Storm the Norm and as a reader of business books by the dozen, did something I normally never do - read it cover to cover in one day.

What grabbed my attention at first was the perfectly poised premise of the book - "market storms aren't purely accidental, there is a method to the magic". The book delves into why and how some businesses do it differently and break fresh ground as leading innovators in their respective industries. No blanket suppositions and ethics lessons, but straight out human endeavour moments when the tide turned, or rather was made to turn by the stormers. And how they capitalised on opportunities that the others couldn't.

I have been a huge fan of Blue Ocean Strategy by Renee Mauborgne & W.Chan Kim, and have read it over a dozen times. A book that's re-readable over and over again, and every read opens new dimensions - it is a book that will be remembered. Storm the Norm is that from an Indian business context. If Mauborgne & Kim were charged to write the Indian Blue Ocean Strategy, this would be it.

The book has stories from the founders/ CEOs of businesses who dared to be different, staring the unknown in the face and changing the path for their brands through sheer will and their norm-storming ability. The book has no ready answers for you but comes closest to telling you in granular detail what stormers do that others can't or just won't - their ability to think years ahead, to dare to be ludicrous and trigger an audacious storm, to persist with their convictions and to manage to make their new, the new norm.

Anisha's partner in crime, Ranjan Malik, an innovation specialist in his own right, has gone so far as to actually create a methodology framework that helps businesses such as yours and mine to "revitalise our current business core and create the future core" through out-and-out innovation. It starts with first realising the stale norms, to spotting the hidden sub-optimal, to conceiving and iterating the breakthrough to elegance, to finding that ever-needed pace to critical mass and finally arriving at a fresh norm.

The framework inspires and, more importantly, helps you discover your own method to your own unique magic - it tells you how you have unwittingly been a stormer most of your life, and now that you know it and know how you did it, you can do it by design and at will. It did that to me.

What clearly shines through the book is the quality of insights in every story. While each insight is completely different from the other, they are all united in one metric. Whichever way you slice and dice it, it extolls the inherent, sometimes seemingly insane virtue of norm-storming extremely poignantly.

In my opinion, this book is valuable to students and CXOs alike. The other clear out-take is that the leaders of all of these brands were the bastions of the pure. They had their own convictions, which were at the other end of the spectrum, but they believed in them with such devotedness, it was almost religious. They were in it to win in the big game and were not afraid to try, even if it meant they would fail a few times to accomplish their compelling purpose. Anisha has managed to make this point brilliantly across all three categories she has broken up her stories into - The Entrepreneur to The Challenger to The Legacy Brands.

I find the level of research to be very thorough and it shows in each and every one of the 20 stories. Storm the Norm has the reader going from story to story with greater levels of engagement from the first story on Ajay Bijli's PVR to Deep Kalra's MakeMyTrip journey all the way to the incredible stories of MTR, Cadbury's, Mahindra and Raymond.

Read these inspiring stories to map your own (personal, brand, business) norm-storming journey, discover your mojo and chart your next norm-storming roadmap. It is not just a good book, but a tool that convinces you that the Norm Stormer is within you, and right now is the right time to storm the norm.

The reviewer is Managing Director & CEO at Universal Music Group, South Asia