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 Chief Brand Strategist and founder of Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands online. In addition to his agency work, he teaches social media marketing at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and is the co-host of The Work Talk Show podcast. More about Nick.