Political Jenga? They’re all playing it!

A Taste of the Cuts to Come

‘The Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative conference in Birmingham on Monday was political Jenga.’ The Motley Fool

Dr Vince swings back to the 60s with his vision for BIS

‘…but for now at least he is a key block in the coalition’s game of political jenga.’ Left Foot Forward

The Looming Political Jenga moment

‘The United States and the State of California are facing looming political Jenga moments.’ Political Vanguard

About.com: Women in Business

Excerpt from book review by Lahle Wolfe

About Jenga, Leslie Scott, Published by Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
About Jenga, by Leslie Scott, is a great holiday gift book for game lovers and budding entrepreneurs.
Greenleaf Book Group, LLCStumped for a Christmas gift your your boss or co-worker? About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name is a great and affordable gift idea.

Written by Leslie Scott, the woman who invented the game, About Jenga is an interesting memoir nestled in the story behind the creation of Jenga. But her book also offers charming and entertaining anecdotal and experiential insights into the world of business making it a worthwhile and inspirational read for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs.

Who Would Like This Book

Any Jenga lover interested in learning more about the origins of the game will find enough gossipy and anecdotal details to make the book enjoyable. The book puts to rest any suggestion that Scott stole the idea for Jenga from African customs or that the game had its origins in some other ancient culture. Scott briefly compares her game to others and presents enough historical data to prove her case.

The book will also appeal to any aspiring entrepreneur (especially women) who have an interest in inventing, the trademark process, and in laughing while reading a book that cheerfully delivers some serious business lessons learned the hard way.

Full Review on About.com, which is part of the New York Times Company

Investor’s Business Daily

Having read ‘About Jenga’, Victor Reklaitis interviewed me a few weeks ago when I was in Los Angeles for a book signing event at Chevaliers’ Books, hosted by Bob Peirce, Chairman of BritWeek.

I thoroughly enjoyed Victor’s always friendly, but challenging interview. And I really appreciate the resultant IBD article ‘Leslie Scott Raised Her Game’, primarily because Victor went to the trouble of interviewing and quoting two key figures in the story of Jenga’s success; Alan Hassenfeld of Hasbro, and Hal Ross, the toy expert’s expert.

A Reader’s View

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/09)

About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name

I have to start this review with a confession. I had never heard of Jenga before I started reading Leslie Scott’s “About Jenga,” so I had no real idea what to expect. Even after reading the first few pages, I still did not know exactly what kind of a game Ms. Scott was talking about, yet by that point it simply did not matter any more. I was enthralled by the unfolding story and thoroughly entertained throughout it.

If I had to classify “About Jenga,” I would find it really hard to decide whether to call it a memoir, a business manual, a story of a journey or simply a grandly entertaining and truly intriguing tale of a brilliant mind. The account of one woman’s idea about a new, outwardly very simple, yet greatly addictive game and the path this idea took was simply fascinating. It mattered little whether Ms. Scott was talking directly about Jenga or about any of thereto sometimes loosely connected ideas, events and influences – I wanted to know more. I found myself running to my computer to delve deeper into some of the facts and ideas she mentioned in her book, I found myself stopping and thinking, “Oh, that’s why!” and more often than not, I simply found myself admiring the brilliant and witty writing style.

English by definition, but born and raised in Africa, Leslie Scott developed a challenging and very competitive game of Jenga from some simple wooden blocks that were made for her family while they were still living in Africa. Her quest to market and properly protect her invention was not easy and straightforward, and anybody trying to launch a new idea or a new product could greatly benefit from reading “About Jenga.” Ms. Scott’s narrative deftly presents a great number of valuable insights into business concepts and practices, but does not simply stop there. The parts that I found particularly astute were those dealing with protection of intellectual property and the intricacies of branding.

“About Jenga” by Leslie Scott is a book that can and should be enjoyed on many levels. If you simply read it as an account of a beguiling mission to profitably market an idea, I am convinced you will enjoy it greatly. If you take it as a handy manual on how to proceed with your business venture, it should help you avoid countless snares that one usually encounters while doing that. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in the business side of it, I am certain that the ease and grace with which Ms. Scott writes will enchant and delight you. Fresh, engaging and endlessly intellectually stimulating, this book will without a doubt delight a vast circle of very different readers.

About Jenga in the News

About Jenga was published on October 1st.  I’m now two weeks into my tour across the United States promoting the book, and currently in Los Angeles about to attend a book- signing event at Chevalier’s Books, hosted by Bob Peirce, the Chairman of Brit Week.

Media coverage for About Jenga has been widespread and diverse, and reviews have been reassuringly good – on the whole – and where critical, the criticism has been both fair and constructive.

The Wall Street Journal’s review, for example, criticises me for displaying a tendency in the book to meander off course from time to time, which I agree I do. But, in my defence, I would say that I take these side trips deliberately and with a purpose; they are not just aimless rambles through the park.

As the WSJ points out About Jenga is a book of three separate, but interconnected parts.

In part, it is a history of the game. Today, 70 % of all families in the United States (Hasbro’s market survey 200) recognise the name Jenga, and know the game even if they have never played it themselves; yet very few people know Jenga’s provenance. In part it is a business case study of how I took Jenga, and other games, to market. And, in part it is an exploration of why Jenga, the game, is so successful and why Jenga, the word, has stuck.

To do justice to any of these three themes, I found it necessary to go off on the odd tangent. For example, in asking why Jenga has become a household name; I explore just what branding is in the first place, and in asking why Jenga is so successful a game; I consider what makes a ‘good game’ and why we play games at all.

Geoff Williams in an article in AOL Business says

‘Not that Scott, who will turn 54 this December, has ever said she wrote the book to let people know that she is the one behind the game, but, boy, if you had created a global phenomenon, wouldn’t you want a little recognition?’

Well, of course one of the reasons I wrote About Jenga was that I wanted to be recognized as the game’s creator.  However, in truth, this was not because I sought fame per se, but because it puzzled me that neither Pokonobe nor Hasbro (who own the rights to the game) were actively promoting the fact that Jenga has a living, breathing (almost 54 year old!) author. Promoting this fact would, in my opinion, be a pretty powerful tool to use to counteract the growing impression that Jenga is a generic or ancient game. An utterly false impression that suits Jenga’s many imitators very well.

Jenga, the generalist


A large part of Jenga’s success can be attributed to the fact that Jenga is, to borrow a concept from the natural world, a generalist. Being a generalist -as, for example, are the plants that gardeners accuse of being weeds – Jenga has managed to colonize, as weeds do, a wide range of different territories simultaneously . Children like to play it, so it’s available in toy stores. Teachers like to use it as a teaching aid, so it’s available through educational suppliers. It is a popular adult drinking game, so you find it in pubs. Language is no barrier and neither is age, hence it can be perennially popular without acquiring craze status and is thus less likely to drop in and out of fashion as many other toys have done, such as the yo-yo and the hula hoop.
The flip side to such general success is that Jenga spawned a number of copies of knockoffs, some of which, like weeds themselves, rushed in to take advantage of the cleared space and perfect growing conditions Jenga created. Keeping the ground free of these imitations remains a challenge and, at the risk of taking this analogy a step too far, the most effective method of suppressing them has been to treat them like weeds and try to fill any gap in the market with an original Jenga game (or genuine Jenga line extension) as a gardener fills every space in a bed with desirable plants, leaving no room for weeds to take hold.

A brief excerpt from chapter 12 of ‘About Jenga’

Chapter Four: ‘Real Tennis and Flappy Ducks’

‘But of the myriad games I have played over the years, Real Tennis is undoubtedly the one to have exercised the greatest influence over my life. I met my husband through Real Tennis, and in many respects, it was because of the game of Real Tennis that I became a professional designer of games.’ About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name.’