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Drowning out 'karaoke capitalism'

By Nick Easen for CNN

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Ridderstrale says expressing your individuality lies at the heart of modern enterprise and modern life.

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(CNN) -- Repetition, standardized recipes and replication are the norm in many business sectors; whether it be mid-sized cars, marketed music, architecture or movie remakes.

According to two business gurus, the corporate world is now under siege from "karaoke capitalism" or institutionalized imitation, where copycat firms dominate.

"No matter how talented you are in a karaoke bar, you are going to end up being a pale copy of an original," Jonas Ridderstrale told CNN.

"We need to realize it is better to be a first rate version of yourself, rather than a second class copy of someone else."

The 2003, Thinkers 50 -- the worlds' first ranking of management luminaries -- pegged Dr. Jonas Ridderstrale and Dr. Kjell Nordstrom at number 21.

Their brand of business philosophy says companies can only achieve success if they think and act differently from their competitors.

"Competing in a world of karaoke capitalism is about daring to be different, it is about writing the songs of the future and not focusing on the tunes of the past," explains Ridderstale.

They both look nothing like business school professors and delight in Scandinavian dryness, throwing in philosophy and pop culture into seminars, as well as reveling in firms who raise themselves above the madding crowd.

"Dell and Virgin want to change something, make certain parts of society work better or improve a product," explains Nordstrom.

Their mantra says that for many consumers in Europe and the U.S., life-long loyalty to a country, a company, a brand, a rock band, a husband or a wife has vanished and people no longer accept standardization in their lives and purchases.

"64 percent of all marriages in Sweden end in divorce. From the start people no longer have a sense of loyalty," says Ridderstrale.

"If I require a flat made for me -- I do not want a fridge, I want an ice machine. I do not need a bathtub. I prefer two showers."

The two Swedes are the authors of international bestsellers "Funky Business" and now "Karaoke Capitalism: Talent makes capital dance."

In their latest book they describe the new reality for most corporations -- a consumer landscape under siege from increasingly powerful individuals, who are free to know, go, do and be who they want to be.


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