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Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out Hardcover – December 13, 2005
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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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.)
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Rushkoff answers that by looking at companies that have managed to succeed, and continued their success. The keys come down to a few broad themes, first, realize what is motivating workers of today and learn to treat your consumers in a more human manor.
The first breaks down to realizing that todays workers are less inspired by the corner office and more inspired by exciting work. Moreover, workers expect fair compensation for their work, and are uselessly distracted by fighting for raises or protecting retirement funds.
The second part means two things: don't treat your costumer like an idiot, but also, be careful how much you listen to them. Rushkoff exposes some companies that are so busy protecting themselves from lawsuits, and guarding their copyrights that they end up alienating their customers and losing business. It all boils down to companies thinking that what they own (IP) is more important than getting it out to customers. In Rushkoff's previous books, he's explored the world of conultants like "cool hunters" trying to track down the next big trend. In this book, he takes us into the world of companies making bold decisions because they know their product. Sure enough, the customer often follows.
Overall, a great book for both business people looking forward and workers trying to inspire change.
And stories they are. While much of the anecdotal evidence is entertaining it remains personal opinion and observation. Rushkoff's message is one, ultimately, of wanting companies to *DO* something. The clarion call is to those companies that have so fragmented and outsourced what they do that there is no real expertise or 'craft' to be had. This is a much needed message in an age of 'Four Hour Work Weeks'. It makes for a compelling read. I just wish his foils weren't such cardboard; something that makes the dispatching easy when presented in such a one-dimensional manner.
There is, however, one important qualification to my praise. Which is, that while the author contrasts the limitations of the "first" Renaissance, with the virtues of this "second" Renaissance" he also makes a great case for the value, insights gained from, and need for the competency of "pattern recognition," by upper corporate management. He makes the point that each company should have the ability to recognize the patterns associated to its core competencies and offerings, and I assume with how those patterns resonate with their customers. This was the essence and sine-qua-non of the "first" Renaissance; the re-birthing of the eternal patterns first made known in the classical Greek period. There is a great deal to learn about patterns and their recognition from the first Renaissance, much more than Mr. Rushkoff's excellent book has to offer, or gives credit to.
Our current obsession with "Brand" and "Branding" and "Brand Management" is not anything more than a less adept striving to create what the Greeks understood about the worship of their gods. How each divinity was a constellation of psychological forces that formed patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that were expressions "from" the culture and not imposed "on" the culture. During the first Renaissance this was recognized and was employed as a way to speak to and create for its own people. In this way, by understanding the first Renaissance a time of "pattern recognition," one can learn to create value for people from their lives and not impose it on their lives.
I love this book and at the same time, this significant lapse has me thinking about how much the author has sacrificed of his own considerable and core competency for research in chasing the gods of "compare and contrast" so overly worshiped by those in-the-academic-box.
But, let me also say that this is an amazingly useful book for those who want to embrace the patterns of collaboration, generosity, and approaching one's work as play, which are the shinning patterns of this "second" Renaissance, that we live in today and which Hermes, Aphrodite and a sense of Philia can teach us all about as well.
Once I began reading this book I could not put it down. Nothing is perfect, however, which is another point he makes in the book.
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I rated this 4 stars; 5 stars for being thought provoking and reinforcing my notions of what businesses should be concerned with, and 3 stars for the...Read more