Friday, September 03, 2010

How to execute a dream

In Every bastard says no. The 42 below story is a 'rollicking good story of how to go from woe to go...The NZ vodka story- from $5.00 a litre of product made on a still in a garage to a company sold for 138 million.
The product was named for the latitude at which the company developed down under.

In Pandora’s Hope (Latour, 1999) Latour’s question was:
‘how do we pack the world into words?’ (p.24) And

This is one read that does this exceptionally well.
There is a chronology, but it doesnt restrict the construction of the book which is interspersed, sliced, with vignettes and with visual imagery of the advertising that aided the seduction of a market, as well as its betrayal of competitors.
For example the required public retraction of a defamatory comment on competitors product which is portrayed below.

The title of the book points to the reasons given by the actors who invented the company for its success: "Every bastard says no."
In the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" ethos, this company had directors who decided to prove the naysayers wrong. The bastards who said no drew a resistance to failure, a dogged determindness that might not have occurred otherwise.
The treatment of product, branding and company as their baby reminds me that the product itself is an actor here, given some voice...and more wouldnt have been a problem to me.

Latour (1996b) acknowledges that ANT ‘is an extremely bad tool for differentiating associations. It gives a black and white picture not a colored and contrasted one’ (p. 380).
The quality of the associations is something that requires thick descriptions, this book provides it.
For Jan Nespor, the questions shift from what the assemblages are, to also inquire as to the nature of the interactions- The question is "how and why ‘commingling’ happens, for example, how important to a given outcome is the sequencing of assembly, the pacing of composition, the speciļ¬c mix of the elements associated, whether a given element is essential to the mix or open to substitution, and whether the associations are reversible or easily changed. Do associations and delegations come slowly and incrementally, allowing different kinds of uses at different stages as a device takes form (or as different versions of a device are produced), or do commitments come together all at once (the organization bets on a particular product)? Are commitments large at the outset or do they gradually build? How does one translation relate to a preceding sequence of translations (e.g., Latour, 1996a, p. 91; Law & Callon, 1992, p. 52)?"

Stephen Fox also questions the quality of the connections, when he enquires as to what force there may be in them.
"Where is power in Ant? it is in in the acts tions in the network including the actions of inanimate objects such as newspapers, metal...And that non human entities also 'act': eg radiation on atomic structures. Force is tangible. Force is relational- it implies active and resistive entities. Even the self can be acted upon and resisted. If we think about force relations at every point in a network we begin to think about learning in different ways.

Power needs to be explored and demonstrated in the thick descriptions.

The similarities with the changes i have been studying include a dogged determinedness, fickle funding, a transience that makes some things easier and others harder.
Retrospectively it is easy to see the strength of the assemblages; at the time it is a more tenuous reality made solid in enactments.


Fox, S. (2000). Communities of practice, Foucault and actor-network theory [September 05]. Journal of Management Studies, 37(6), 853-867.

Latour, B. (1999). Pandora's hope. Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Nespor, J. (2010). Devices and educational change. Educational Philosophy and Theory. Retrieved from doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00611.x

Troy, J. and Ross, G. (2010). Every bastard says no. The 42 Below story. Auckland, New Zealand: Random House.

(click on the picture for a bigger image, then hit your enlarge view...or at least read this:
In our ad we had said absolut vodka was judged "the least favourite". The Board (advertising complaints) told us this was a fib....What was actually said was..."no one had kind words to say about absolut..."
They were so apologetic they published this retraction at huge expense...saying they should not have said absolut was least favourite and correcting this to say had no kind words a further three times.
Deeply sorry, very, very
Machiavellian :)

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