1) What? 2) So what? and 3) Now what? – Absolute Value (2014)

The three questions are from Jim Levine, the agent who works with Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen, authors of Absolute Value (2014).

According to Levine, a good business book should answer the three above-noted questions. With regard to their 2014 study, Simonson and Rosen share the following answers.


Consumer decision making has shifted. Consumers need to rely less on relative evaluations – such as branding, loyalty, and positioning – of things. Instead, they now have the tools to assess the absolute value – or a pretty good approximation of the absolute value – of things.

So what?

Consumers, according to the authors, are likely (on average) to make better decisions than in the past. It also means that marketing has changed, “because people will rely less on proxies for quality such as brand names, loyalty, or positioning” (p. xi).

Now what?

A new framework and approach to marketing is required.

The primacy of framing

I find this book – and other books that address similar topics, but from alternative perspective – of much interest, as noted in a recent post.

With regard to political life, we can add that in many cases framing maintains primacy.

In some cases, active suppression of data and evidence, that would enable citizens to make informed decisions, is a political strategy – driven by instrumental reason, which can be used for good or evil – in support of ideological goals.

In the case of climate change, attempts to dismiss the evidence, in favour of the framing of the narrative independent of the facts, has achieved some measure of success in the past, but now are widely discredited.

“3P” strategy

At the community level, the “3P” strategy – Proactive, Persistent, and Positive – developed by the Lakeview Ratepayers Association in Mississauga, Ontario – that’s in Canada – underlines the reality that (a) fact gathering and (b) conceptual framing of redevelopment can, under suitable conditions, be harnessed (in contest to serving in opposition to each other) in the pursuit of common goals.

Evidence-based practice

It can be argued that evidence-based practice demonstrates parallels with the “absolute value” concept as defined by Simonson and Rosen.

Machine in the garden

The machine in the garden metaphor originated as a way to position postindustrial enterprises in the public imagination.

It can be argued that some – perhaps much of – the positive framing associated with the machine in garden metaphor is not supported by the evidence.

It can be argued that the evidence indicates that the extensively negative impacts of the industry co-exist with the positive, life enhancing features of information technology.


With regard to the topic of framing, an April 23, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Why politicians and academics don’t just say what they mean.”

The subhead reads: “Say what you mean: New Steven Pinker book takes aim at the rise in bafflegab.”


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