Do you Push or Pull?

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Collaboration curves, creation spaces, serendipity, passion: topics near and dear to my heart explored in “The Power of Pull”. I’ll start with the concepts, but beyond the buzzwords are practical ideals and applications for business strategists, communication professionals, and even commercial artists.

John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison recently released their book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. It’s a topic they have been visiting and revisiting for years in previous books and blogs, refining and evolving a range of themes and trends that they combined into “The Big Shift”, a fundamental reordering of the way we live, learn, socialize, play and work.

The Power of Pull is a summation of their research and analysis, the latest step in their explorations of the edge. The key: “pull” is a concept that applies to every part of a business. It’s reshaping operations, communications, marketing, PR, customer service, finance, management; it impacts all silos in ways that upends business models and forces organizations to innovate or die.

Why? Pull is replacing push.

What’s Push?
Hagel et. al. explain:

Push describes a method and means of organizing activities and actions. Push operates on a key assumption: that it is possible to forecast or anticipate demand. … Push works to ensure the right people and resources are deployed to the rights places at the right time to serve anticipated demand.

But in a world where communication and transportation infrastructures have reset the traditional equations defining “push”, the usual decision-making processes become less effective and break down. Oddly, this is the exact time where push works harder to re-establish control and reduce variances by modifying their equations, rather than realizing that their equations don’t work anymore.

What’s Pull?
Pull is about accessing, attracting and achieving:

There are many ways to apply the concepts of pull to our personal and professional lives. Make your passion your profession. Harness your ecosystems. Engage in spikes of shared interests and passions across online and offline networks. Embrace the power of weak ties. Maximize your return on attention. Employ both search tools and serendipity tools. Employ shaping strategies.

All deep concepts that require examples to completely explain, topics to explore another day. But I’ll start by touching on what pull means to commercial artists.

Artists understand the power of pull in their art, but not their business.
I believe the concept of pull resonates with many commercial artists when they think about their creative process. Much of what an artist does is take ideas and inspirations from a variety of disciplines and areas and tap into their tacit knowledge to create something that reflects their passions. Artists understand pull, whether they know it or not.

But few artists have tapped into the power of pull in their business. While creating, promoting, distributing and selling art is a process largely shaped by pull, dominated by search and serendipity (i.e. “being found”), few really take advantage of the opportunity.

How can artists harness the power of pull? Create context. Be a hub. Connect. Be a story. Reframe your competitors as your customers. Create meaning. Share. And of course, create great work that is simply too good, valuable and meaningful not to scale into the market it’s meant to reach.

Thoughts to explore deeper another day. But thank you to John, JSB and Lang for writing a thoughtful, powerful book that will surely spark conversations and shape meaningful strategic decisions for years to come.

Related posts by others:

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Power of Pull from John Hagel. This post is based on the quality of the book, not how I obtained it.

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