Why does this book matter? The world will certainly go on without it. But books can make a difference, and perhaps this is the right book at the right time to make at least a small difference.
There’s increasing awareness of the power of stories. Here are twelve companies that, not least because of their age, have great stories. Our twelve writers aim to tell those stories well, to make them entertaining and to make them useful.
There’s a faster and faster turnover for everything as we go further into the 21st century. Attention spans are shrinking. The rate of company creation and failure is accelerating. Here are twelve stories of real companies that show the advantages of longer attention spans and the value that comes with experience and the passing of time.
When you put those two reasons together, what pops out is a book that is different in its intentions, style and, we hope, influence.
It is – and we’ve felt the need almost to whisper this – a business book. The whisperer effect comes about because nearly all business books are crass and boring. They’re along the lines of “Ten easy steps to earning your fortune”. Follow the steps and the chances are friends and influence will be lost.
So we were determined to avoid that territory while writing stories about business in a way that is fresh and enlightening. After all, we all have a relationship of some kind with business. We shop for food and much else, we switch on the lights, we keep ourselves clean, we travel in many different ways, we put money in a place that’s not just under the floorboards. Business matters to us because it’s an integral part of our lives.
This means we have a vested interest in making business better, supporting good ways of making a living, learning lessons from commercial as well as purely social activities – indeed, seeing that there are links between the two.
So that’s why we decided to write this book. Because it matters. Because it has commercial and social lessons for all of us.
Photographs of Whitechapel Bell Foundry by Neil Thomas
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