Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on January 24, 2013

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Building a Commitment Engine for Your Business (Book Review)

commitment engine book review

Commitment. Passion. Culture. Strategy. These big words get bandied about exhaustively in business settings large and small. In some cases these buzzwords get strung together in team meetings in an ill-defined way prompting many to recall that line in The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya says, “you keep using that word -— I do not think it means what you think it means.” That’s why it’s so refreshing to find a book like The Commitment Engine by John Jantsch that unpacks these concepts in a clear and actionable format. 

The Elevator Pitch

Those familiar with Jantsch’s other books, Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine, may be caught off guard by The Commitment Engine. That’s because this, unlike those classic titles, is not a marketing book per se. Rather, it’s not just a marketing book. Indeed one of the biggest points in the book reminds us why all strategy is essentially marketing strategy. The Commitment Engine wants to help you build a more committed and alive business. Jantsch proposes we do this with a set of Ps for business leaders and marketers — passion, purpose, proposition, and personality.

4 Big Ideas from The Commitment Engine

This is a big business book with many great take-aways. Here are four of the bigger ones I found.

John Jantsch

John Jantsch

The Danger of Playing Small — Many of us run or work in a small business. While this is a rewarding experience in many ways, Jantsch cautions readers to avoid thinking and “playing small” as this can place limitations on what you can or can’t do. This is especially critical for small businesses that have been around for awhile.

Planned Mindfulness — As Jantsch elaborated when he was a guest on The Work Talk Show podcast, running a fully alive and committed business takes time and energy — both mental and physical. As such, Jantsch encourages leaders to engage in times of planned focus and to build good habits for energy-preservation.

Rethinking Drucker — Like the author, I’m a huge fan of Peter Drucker. However, in building a committed business Jantsch asks us to reconsider Drucker’s definition of business as a means of “creating and keeping customers.” Instead he offers that we need to build a business with a purpose that’s committed to doing something for customers. This gives your community a purpose to rally around. (As an aside, this book was instrumental to me as I worked through our recent Brand Driven Digital relaunch.)

Culture & Community — Very few books address culture in a way that’s applicable to small business. For many big organizations such as Apple and Target, culture is baked into large national brand advertising campaigns. For smaller brands, particularly those in the service business, creating culture inside and outside of your organization comes by articulating an impeccable customer experience. Near the end of the book Jantsch notes, “when done correctly, strategy informs culture and culture becomes strategy.”

A lot of people talk about community. Jantsch works to bring this kludgy concept out of the clouds and define it as our customers, employees, partners, vendors — basically everyone your business touches. Though this sounds simple, for the most part, we think only of our customers and employees at best. Instead we need to work harder to bring everyone into the fold and teach them about the commitment and passion behind your business.

So, Should You Read It?

commitment engine bookIf you are an entrepreneur, the head of a business looking to restart, or an executive or intrapreneur at a larger organization looking to breath new passion and commitment into your business, then the answer is a resounding YES! Jantsch has written a book that no one else has. Rather than the book most write about your business or even building your brand, The Commitment Engine helps you create what’s behind your business. It’s that commitment and purpose that will power your business for the long haul.

A Word of Warning: If you read this book, best of luck not rethinking your business in the process. If you do, you couldn’t ask for a better workbook.

Have you read The Commitment Engine? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.

Want a FREE copy of The Commitment Engine?

Simply add a comment below on why you need to rethink your business and I’ll pick a winner and send you a copy. You must comment by Monday, January 28th at 9 AM Central — when a new post goes live here — to be eligible.




Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, and educator. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands online. He also teaches marketing at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and is the host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


17 comments
hkidder
hkidder

Commitment, engagement and purpose are words executives write and recite where I work, but little is defined about what executives envision these words to be in our culture. This obscurity leaves a gap between those with or without imagination and creativity. Many leaders where I am are literal and not conceptual. If not spelled out, bulleted or explained in a 30 slide deck, they are lost. Reading your review gives me hope that this book is a bridge for literal and conceptual folk to sit on and fish off of. Put me down for your contest, but trust that if I don't win, at some point soon, I'm getting this book.

Collin Kromke
Collin Kromke

You nailed it when you asked if I'm "looking to breath new passion and commitment into your business." I need to do this for both me and my company, and I can't wait to get my hands on this book! Thanks for a great review and summary, Nick!

skip1
skip1

I am in the process of re-thinking who my target (ideal) customer is, and how I can not only best serve him/her, but how to help spread the word concerning what my firm has to offer. In order to do this, I'm going to have to get out of the "business as usual" mode and start doing some things that are just not traditionally done in my industry. I also need to think through new value offerings and how to add them to my business without diluting my core products.

Makes for a busy 2013...

sealgreen
sealgreen

We need to passionately engage with our purpose - the preservation of concrete as a means to protect the environment and save energy.

wiedenu
wiedenu

Sounds like the perfect book to find out how to rethink business, and finding how to succeed in social media in an industry that is controlled by regulation, rules, and risk-averse behavior.

ernohannink
ernohannink

That's easy. The plans I worked hard on last year did not work out successfully. 2013 needs to be different :)

ducttape
ducttape

Hey Nick  - thanks so much for the kind words - it's always fascinating to see the nuggets different people pull out from this book.

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@hkidder You hit the nail on the head. All of the words I open with that are covered in the book are go-to business buzzwords but no one defines them like Jantsch does here. Thanks for reading and commenting. 

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@Collin Kromke Thanks Collin. As noted, this book's purpose hit me square between the eyes. There's no such thing as being a passive reader of The Commitment Engine. Thanks for reading and commenting.

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@skip1 A busy 2013 indeed, Skip. Same with us here. As noted, in reading this book, I had NO choice but to rethink business as usual. Thanks for reading and commenting! ~ Nick

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@sealgreen Great purpose. Sounds like you have a sturdy foundation laid. Too much to say that you have a concrete idea of things ...? Thanks again for reading and commenting.

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@ernohannink Thanks for reading and commenting! Hoping 2013 can turnaround. A book like The Commitment Engine would definitely be up your alley. 

NickWestergaard
NickWestergaard moderator

@ducttape John - Thanks again for the inspiring book. As I note, it's a very different type of book that comes at marketing from a very different way — via the strategy and purpose behind your business. Love the concept that all strategy is essentially marketing strategy. Thanks again!

sealgreen
sealgreen

Some minds are like concrete -  thoroughly mixed up and permanently set. Luckily mine is not and I looking forward to learning new things about committment. (p.s. I love concrete puns!)

wiedenu
wiedenu

@NickWestergaard @wiedenu Best news! Awesome! Looking forward to the read, and hopefully being able to report back to you on how it's helped!