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The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion Hardcover – Apr 13 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 13 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019359
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #181,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Pull is pushing solid ideas about the individual, institution and value on the edge April 14 2010
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Land Davison (HSBD) have written a good book with strong views on the future nature of enterprises and their relationship to individuals. The Power of Pull is one of the most comprehensively thought out books on the subject of social media and the future of the enterprise to have come out. It goes way beyond the buzzword or branding driven works that concentrate more on staking out territory than investigating the future of companies, individuals and technology.

This is not a technology book, in fact it is more about the theory of the individual, their value and the impact of that value on companies. Hagel and Seely Brown's central premise is that "institutions will be shaped to provide platforms to help individual achieve their full potential by connecting with others and better addressing challenging performance needs" page 8. This is a distinctively different view form others who see the future of social computing as one of communities or collectives taking action. Hagel, Seely Brown and Davison then go on to discuss such an environment as one of "pull" with three basic principles

* Finding and accessing people and resources we need
* Having the ability to attach people and resources to yourself that are relevant and valuable
* Pull from within ourselves the indicate and performance required to achieve our potential

Now you can combine the quote and the points above and think this is a book at the cross roads between an academic researcher and Tony Robbins. This book is anything but. I have tremendous respect for this duo and they along with Davison have delivered a comprehensive and thoughtful book on a complex subject.

Hagel, Seely Brown and Davison see pull concentrating on the innovation and new ideas that come from the people on the edge, those who are experimenting and pushing the envelope. They use the example of large wave surfing to illustrate that people working on the edge of their profession deploy sophisticated tools and communications patterns to make breakthroughs.

Creating breakthroughs is an integral part of competing in the future and therefore something that companies need to get better at. That is where the individual fits into their argument, they can engage the edge, learn more, build the relationships that bring the best of the edge into their creation spaces that allows them to leverage themselves in the corporation. It is an interesting premise and one that the authors illustrate through several `mavens'

I recommend this book in general and particularly the introduction and first chapter to business leaders who want a different view on the future and social media. Lately there are few books that I have highlighted or taken notes in the margins as much as I have with this one. There are a few strong ideas, well presented and discussed.


* The introduction - among the best and clearest I have ever read. It lays out the issues and scope of the book in a way that helps you figure out where to concentrate your attention as you read.

* The blending of business activities with technology as the book talks about the importance of platforms rather than applications and how enterprises will operate and compete more on platforms than products or market positions.

* Anti-hype, this is a serious look at the future without the platitudes about the net generation or how all our skills and what we know will be rendered irrelevant. In fact it is much the opposite.

* A rich blend of academic and engineering approaches to the issues that make for deep treatment of the issues.


* The book gets repetitive at times particularly as it talks through the three aspects of pull. It often relies on the same story that can lead to it becoming worn and overused. The reliance on three or four cases does provide depth, but no one case can fit all of these ideas, reducing the effectiveness of the examples.

* The two major examples are non-business examples that are fun to read, but challenging to see how it applies to me. It was great to learn about surfing and the world of warcraft but real companies are applying these ideas and it would have been better to hear about them.

* The book has more than its share of jargon and in an engineering/academic style this makes reading it a little harder than it should. Jargon includes: push, pull, edge, creative spaces, big shift and shaping strategies to name a few. This is where the consultant-ese gets in the way.

* The emphasis and contrast between push and pull is stark and needs to be for literary purposes. However much of the economy and much of our work will remain heavily push influenced even when we are all knowledge workers. Building that bridge is the bigger challenge than saying 'all smart people go be self actualizing.'

Finally, this book is a Deloitte developed book and the authors are all associated with Deloitte. The authors have done a great job in not writing a book about why you should buy pull based consulting services. While the authors have done a nice job in maintaining or presenting their ideas independently, they have a business basis that the reader should take into consideration. Still recommended, but the ideas are big, the presentation comprehensive so you will need to pull on your thinking cap and take the time to reflect on what is in this book. Enjoy.
77 of 89 people found the following review helpful
That's the best you could come up with? Nov. 2 2010
By Stewart McCure - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Last Friday I finished reading The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion (italics yours).

I was intrigued (as intended) when the authors cited a group of big wave surfers from Maui as an example of 'Pull' in the Introduction. It was nice that they followed up with Li & Fung, the hundred year old, Hong Kong-based fashion outsourcing business in Chapter 1. And I admit that I was drawn in by the breathless description of the global effort to re-encrypt Twitter so that Iranian dissidents could keep on communicating after the fraudulent elections in June last year in Chapter 2. Well done for using the SAP Developer Network and PortalPlayer to bring us readers back to the realities of the commercial world before moving onto Chapter 3.

But that was pretty much it.

These weren't just a few quirky examples, drawn from many, of vastly different but equally successful enterprises that had mastered this new 'Pull' thing. They were pretty much the ONLY examples.

By the time we got to p. 167 we were at the banal heart of the argument. The magic that attracts the people you need to you is your 'passion'. The good news is anyone can have it provided they want it enough: -

"The truth is that virtually any type of work can become the focus for passion. Many auto-repair mechanics are passionate about cars and knowing what makes them run. Carpenters can take great delight in building things that are beautiful and enduring."

Really? Mechanics and carpenters? That's it? The authors' hat-tip to all those drones who don't have jobs as interesting as their own is, "Jesus. Oh, and the guy who fixes my Prius"?

That's not to say that the authors don't know their readership. We're all afflicted by 'illusory superiority', that cognitive bias better known as the Lake Woebegone effect ("where all the children are above average"). It's what keeps me upgrading to the latest version of prosumer software like FinalCut Pro and promising myself that next year we'll make it to SWSX and buying books like this as soon as I read about it in The Economist. But readers like me aren't 'everyone'. Not even close.

The authors are of course free to market it any way they see fit - caveat emptor and all that - but pretending that they've hit upon some ground-breaking reevaluation of all work is disingenuous. Better technology leading to greater interconnectivity does mean that many 'knowledge worker' jobs will be done better by passionate people working in a more connected way but universalising that idea rings false.

Spare me the conceit that every workplace can be rendered artisanal.

Adapted from [...]
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
"Pull" will change your life--and that's a good thing April 9 2010
By MC Corrigan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up my review copy of this book, it was with the eye of a cynic, but before I knew it, I was eagerly reading and reflecting, not in the least because "The Power of Pull" begins with a story of up-and-coming Maui surfers. In fact the book is full of engaging stories, many about individuals--both in and out of the business world--who have tapped into their own passions and the passions of the people around them (and even people they've never met) to improve their performance, to develop innovative solutions, to shape industries and even to change the world. One of the strengths of this book is the way it engages the individual and then makes a compelling case for why and how the individual can move the institution. Organizations are comprised of individuals, after all. Perhaps most relevant is the chapter that proposes techniques for managers to cultivate and harness the power and passions of their employees, for mutual benefit of individual and corporation.

This is not a "how-to" book in the sense that it is not prescriptive and doesn't oversimplify by proposing three simple steps for corporate nirvana. That's part of what makes the authors' analysis so credible. "The Power of Pull" forces the reader to think, presenting seemingly simple concepts such as the value of networking and extending them past the individual level to the institution and beyond. Although this book makes a case for how digital and communication technologies have removed barriers and opened the door to new opportunities for conducting business, the book's message is fundamentally about building relationships, as individuals and as organizations, with or without technology.

The Power of Pull ultimately reaffirms the power of the individual as the central force and rationale behind the work we do and offers an inspiring vision for moving beyond obsolete practices of command and control.
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Boring, long-winded book that says very little Sept. 3 2010
By Nancy Loderick - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book started with a bang. The introduction tells the story of the Mauai groms (kids learning extreme sports) and how they parlayed persistence and crowd wisdom into becoming Surfing World Champions. I love stories like this. But as the introduction went on and on for 29 pages, my interest started to wane.

I perked up again when I read about serendipity and how to shape one's environment to achieve a goal. It was a momentary interest though.

What a disappointment. The authors, all senior executives at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, seem to have good credentials and they should know their stuff. Maybe they do, but they can't communicate it.

This book is filled with verbose `corporate speak' that says very little. It's also annoying to see the same funnel picture showing "the big shift" and an uphill rise towards prosperity. Okay, we got it the first time, we don't need to see it in all seven chapters.

I think they are trying to explain the importance of information flow and how we must tap into this in order to succeed in today's world. They call this "the power of pull."

I do not recommend this book to anyone, save your time and your money.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Big disappointment given the credentials of the authors April 8 2011
By Jackal - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like the previous reviewer, I am very impressed by Seely Brown The Social Life of Information. Hagel is also is also an interesting author (although his books often turn an article into a book). This book is another matter. A rehash of lots of good ideas written in a slightly dumbed down way to appeal to middle managers. I suppose that is how the publishers think. Why would there otherwise be so many similar management book. The previous reviewer called it consultant speak. There are so many good books in the world and you won't have time for all of them. This book does not deserve five minutes of your time.