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Get Back in the Box: How Being Great at What You Do Is Great for Business Paperback – January 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By touting the value of thinking "outside the box," business experts have inspired an obsession with growth, competition and offbeat concepts, says Rushkoff (Cyberia; Coercion; etc.). In fact, he insists, the secret of success lies inside the box; businesses that focus on their core competencies, their customers' needs and their work environment come up with better innovations in the long run than those that rely on flashy ad campaigns, focus groups or off-site consultants. Smart businesses, he argues, hire employees who are deeply familiar with the company's core products and encourage innovation by cultivating a fun, collaborative work environment. Rushkoff's premise is solid, and he supports it with several convincing examples (Craig's List, XM radio and Saturn among them). In his effort to shuck the traditional case study model of business writing, however, Rushkoff often digresses into long passages of glib historical analogy. He's more entertaining, and more convincing, in the sections where he focuses on particular businesses and business people. Fortunately, there are enough of those sections to please Rushkoff's many fans. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Get your highlighters out! There’s a worldchanging idea on each and every page.” (Seth Godin, author of All Marketers are Liars)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060758708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060758707
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas Rushkoff is the author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now as well as a dozen other bestselling books on media, technology, and culture, including Program or Be Programmed, Media Virus, Life Inc and the novel Ecstasy Club. His latest book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, will be published by Penguin/Portfolio in March 2016. He is Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens. He wrote the graphic novels Testament and A.D.D., and made the television documentaries Generation Like, Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and Digital Nation. He lives in New York, and lectures about media, society, and economics around the world.

Rushkoff's first book about digital culture, Cyberia, was canceled by Bantam in 1992 because they thought the Internet would be "over" by the time the book came out in 1993. It came out the next year with HarperCollins. When he told his publicist there about listing the book on Amazon, she replied "that sounds great! Is Amazon for the Mac or the PC?"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a thoughtful and easy to read book. The short editorial comments above do not do it justice.

Drawing largely on his own experiences as a cyber-world observer, the author comes to conclusions that are solidly supported by many other works that he does not cite (out of his primary area of interest) but that strongly support his independently derived conclusions. I refer to the various works on collective intelligence (Atlee, Bloom, Levy, Steele, Wells), additional works on the power of knowledge driven organizations (Buckman, Wheatley), and on the sources of innovation through intrapreneurship (Pinchot, Christensen, Raynor), and finally, the wealth of knowledge (Stewart) and infinite wealth (Carter).

What I found most helpful in this book was its preamble, in which the author systematically pointed out that the war metaphors of business, the survival of the fittest, the assumption that we are all in competition with one another, and the centralization and manipulation of money, have all led to pathological behavior and distorted priorities that actually diminish what can be shared and created. In this the author is consistent with Tiger (The Manufacture of Evil) and various works today on immoral capitalism (Greider, Prestowitz, Perkins).

He carries the argument further by suggesting that big is bad and that most giant enterprises have lost sight of their core competencies. They are so busy making money and outsourcing to cut costs that they literally "lose it." At the same time, they struggle desperately to "brand" to manipulate customers, to reinvent old products, etc. At the same time, the constant focus by merchants on short term profits reduces trust--as the author says, no long-term focus reduces trust. This is an important point.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Arkiver on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm not the typical audience for a "business" book. A number of business books have been given to me over the years, such as "Who Moved My Cheese" and "First, Break All The Rules." I mostly found that those tended to remind me of bad self-help or get rich quick type pitches. The guru comes down and tells us proles how it is. My interest in *this* book however sprang from Rushkoff's fascinating blog.

Douglas Rushkoff writes from the perspective of a netizen, a cyber enthusiast, and above all, a member of the silly, fascinating, innovative and always moving culture that has been made possible by the Internet. Get Back In The Box captures that sense of play and optimism that I've always found online but never in a standard "business" text.

Although he does occassionally cross over into almost over-hyping the change in thinking, the illustrations of what makes innovation possible are fascinating and inspiring. His example of satellite radio, of how Sirius has spent $$ on marketing and big names all the while losing money while XM has focused on solid ground-building support with the music coming first, was one of my favorite sections.

I wish the higher-ups at my company would read this book. I work in IT, as server support for a large company (very large). When I started, we used to do support of one business unit, with a great deal of in-depth knowledge of how our systems worked to support that unit. As years have gone by, we've taken on more and more systems to the point where now most of us don't really have any idea what these systems actually do. And now, as we're slowly being segmented by function into more "efficient" units, any unique value that we used to be able to bring to help our clients, is basically lost.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David L. Swedlow on December 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Doug Rushkoff manages to capture the essence of the next wave of innovation just as it is peaking. We are on the cusp of a new renaissance, and Rushkoff lays out the landscape clearly (to listen to a preview, google: Rushkoff "Renaissance Prospects" podcast from ITConversations). His main thesis is that we are in the midst of a new renaissance in which you and I, the average Joes and Janes, are no longer content to be passengers in our experience, but increasingly demand to be given the wheel so that we can author our own future.

This is illustrated by his example of BMW motorcycle owners, who have formed a fiercely loyal community of peers. When BMW offered to help with the coordination of riders, the community politely but firmly declined; they can manage credibility and coordination just fine without official corporate mojo, thank you very much. And BMW got the message.

The point isn't to stop being innovative, but to keep faith with one's core in the midst of innovating. In the wild ride of the late nineties, too many caught whiff of a new craze and mistook it as a call to be different for different's sake. Rushkoff's advice to us as a culture is the recognition that both supplier and consumer are collaborating in bringing this experience to fruition. The challenge for consumers is to pony up to the responsibilities of taking the reins. For corporations, the charge is a bit more challenging: how to entrust your customers with your core competencies as they take hold and do with it as they will. The surprise to all may be just how much the line has blurred between these two roles, as we attempt to discover who really is in the driver's seat.
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