Issue 81 - 02 | This Sentence Has 5ive Words: Eigen Values, Creating Truisms and the Future of Marketing

By Stephen Denny
Published April 6, 2011 10:00 a.m.
“Our first sentence—“This sentence has five words—is an eigen value: a self-referencing, self-defining concept. The thing itself is its own definition. Our last rambling sentence is not an eigen value. It isn’t self-defining and frankly lacks meaning to anyone but its author. This is an important distinction, because the casual reader of this sentence frankly doesn’t care one way or another about the message or the messenger.

The concept of eigen values comes from the vast body of work attributed to the father of cybernetics, Heinz von Foerster. His work, and the work of others in this field, has influenced the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, architecture, mathematics, cryptography and art. Why is this concept important to your idea, your brand or your movement? Because creating eigen values is what marketers do when they’re doing their very best work. The concept of eigen values should change how you look at the marketing discipline completely.”

About Stephen Denny | Stephen Denny is a competitive strategy + marketing consultant, working with brands in technology, consumer products, clean energy and services. He is the author of Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath In Your Industry (Portfolio US & Penguin UK). Apart from writing and consulting, Denny is a frequent speaker at corporate events, industry conferences and graduate business schools on topics relating to competitive strategy, marketing and generally how one kills giants. He holds multiple patents, has lived and worked in both the US and Japan, and has an MBA from the Wharton School, the diploma for which is somewhere in his office. He lives just south of San Francisco, which is pretty close to paradise if you ask him.
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