Our Thoughts

TLF Book Club - Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott

31st January 2017

We're reading: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott

We kicked off TLF Book Club with "Predatory Thinking", suggested by Client Manager Stephen Hampshire. Distilled from Dave Trott's distinctively punchy blog posts, this is a book about getting the edge on the competition whatever your walk of life.

We mostly agreed that it was an easy, enjoyable, read. Trott's distinctive one-sentence paragraphs (a writing style that's easy to parody but difficult to emulate) lead you quickly through each short entry, and there's an addictively moreish quality to the collection. We all chose a couple of favourite stories, and interestingly there was a lot of variety in which ones struck a chord.

Some felt that "Predatory Thinking" doesn't really hang together as a book, that it remains a collection of interesting anecdotes without a clear overarching theme. Stephen got quite cross at this point, arguing that the overarching theme is blindingly obvious given it's the title of the book. Nonetheless, it's certainly true that it does read more like a collection of blog posts than a conventional book. You have to do the work to piece the overall point together.

We were also divided on the content, and particularly on how applicable its lessons are for us. There was a consensus that many of the stories made us think about our own traits and behaviour, particularly when it comes to risk-taking, creativity, and the importance of giving and taking criticism. Some offer useful perspectives on how people tick (e.g. too much choice is bad, "what's in it for me?"). Not surprising for a room 60% comprised of people with psychology degrees, but a good reminder and some useful examples.

The main point, though, is about competition. Trott's key contention is that nothing is either good or bad but comparison makes it so. It is, or ought to be, obvious that advertising is mostly a zero-sum game - Trott quotes a colleague who described marketing as "a knife-fight in a phone box". But does it apply to everything? It certainly has relevance to our world of customer experience - being better than the competition is what translates customer satisfaction into competitive advantage. There is also much that customer experience professionals could learn from Trott on the importance of being *distinctive*, and the principle of "getting upstream of the problem" in order to turn something you can't solve into something you can.

We gave scores (with a predictably wide range behind the averages) to reflect how much we enjoyed the book, and how useful it was for TLF...
Enjoyable:  7.6/10
Useful:  6.0/10

Written by Stephen Hampshire

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