My content on the site has been a little light the last couple weeks – it will pick up soon. I've been a lot more active reading, speaking and working the last month and it's affecting the blog. Though the content is down now, my mind is racing with content for the next few weeks, so be sure to stick with me. If that's not enough, I've closed the final sponsor for the $1,000 Giveaway – Vontoo. We're working on a pretty cool demo of Vontoo for the post!
IMHO, Herd may have had a shot of being the most important business book to read this year – except that I think Mark succumbs to some of his own theories and conclusions. Mark is described on the jacket as
One of the world's foremost communications practitioners and a leading thinker about brands, marketing and consumer behavior.
In reading Mark's book, I find some evidence that Mark takes a cynical view of organized religion and of right-wing politics. These are two topics that we're suppose to avoid in business, but Mark's topic of changing mass behavior could not speak to two topics that are more patterned after the herd. Rather than touching on each in-depth, Mark threw a couple cynical comments in and left it at that. To be honest, I had a hard time digesting the rest of the book because of this. That's unfortunate – and may point to why I spent so much time with the book. Mark had so much incredible information that I had to force myself to look for the great info and ignore the shots here and there.
The Political Herd
The second conclusion to the book is that Individuals are unreliable (if not largely irrelevant) witnesses. However, in the same chapter that Mark sets this conclusion, he takes a shot at ‘curious George' and the 2004 election win by George Bush. The electoral college was a brilliant decision devised by this country's forefathers to ensure that the popular vote didn't always make a president and speaks to Mark's concerns about behavior, risks and rewards associated with herd mentality.
If the United States did have a popular election that determined the presidency, 90% of the United States would be left behind while our friends in Washington only paid attention the largest of cities. The electoral college provides a balance that requires our government pay attention to more than just the majority… they have to pay attention to the states. Indeed, the election was won in Florida and Ohio, but without the electoral college, those states would have had no say in the election.
I believe Mark's book would have been better served if he discussed the balance of the popular vs the representative voting requirements of the United States and how it adds to the “American Dream” by providing everyone with a right to pursue happiness, not just the most populous regions.
The Religious Herd
Another shot I noticed in the book was this one towards the end,
we now know that the earth is like a ball which, far from being the centre of our solar system as the Roman Church once taught…”
Of course the Roman Church taught that! It was the common belief at the time and needed to be disproved. That takes time and when it was, science was rewritten.
Conclusion 4 speaks to being more humble and speaking to the individual. Why did Mark reference the Church in his sentiment? Did it matter that it was the Church? For those people who recognize the value of Churches today and centuries ago, we should all recognize that, through its faults and ignorance, the Church built the foundation of our current schools. As with Churches of yesteryear, in the future we'll find out that we're learning things today that are wrong as written by our most intelligent scholars. We should be more humble.
The Environmental Herd
Wrapped up in both Politics and Education is our understanding of the Environment. Mark makes a comment as though it's a foregone conclusion that the Oil industry is causing harm to the environment. This is subscribing to ‘the Herd'. In fact, there's a lot of doubt in the science community that this is the case at all.
Taking a side on each of these areas instead of truly studying the science behind how they are impacted is a disservice and needs to be analyzed with as much detail as Mark does with all the other topics in the book. Once again, I found this book invaluable – but I think Mark could have taken a more judicious view on each of these areas and had more of an impact.