It's All in Your Head
To change the way you do business, change the way you think about business. In The Power of Impossible Thinking (Wharton School Publishing, $16.99), Wharton School professor Jerry Wind and former Citibank CTO Colin Crook draw on neuroscience research to show how the mental models you bring to your business can either give you an edge or hamstring your every initiative. They describe many examples of this force in action, including how Howard Schultz was able to build Starbucks after he obtained a new mental model of coffee retailing by observing European coffee bars.
Start working on your mental models by realizing they exist and influence your behavior and business. Try to identify a few, and test them against objectively verifiable reality. If they fit, fine. Otherwise, draw up new ones that do. Next, try them out, and persuade others in your organization to do the same. Then modify as necessary, and repeat.
In Trading Up, strategy consultant Michael J. Silverstein examined why some people happily pay premium prices for luxury goods and services. Now in Treasure Hunt (Portfolio, $26.95), Silverstein and collaborator John Butman study consumers who insist on cheap purchases in some categories and indulge themselves in others. These treasure hunters, Silverstein argues, are a growing and powerful class distinct from both upscale shoppers and traditional middle-market consumers. His message: Entrepreneurs must have products that can either compel trade-ups or lure bargain hunters. The alternative is to risk the "death of the middle" in a no man's land between appealing bargains and irresistible treats.