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Tapping the Power of Pull

August 5th, 2010

The era of push is now passing. It’s been an era in which institutions mobilized resources in advance to the areas of highest anticipated need.

In business, we built production facilities and service platforms to deliver resources to a particular place at a predetermined time. Push was the guiding principle behind a standardized, mass production economy – one in which demand often exceeded supply.

The next era will revolve around pull, argue John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, authors of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made Can Set Big Things in Motion.

Pull, they state, is driven by platforms that enable people to search for, identify and access relevant resources at the point and moment of need. Unified Communications will, of course, play a central role in these efforts by driving the convergence of collaborative capabilities and enabling the inclusion of a much greater number of parties and participants. “Pull allows each of us to find and access people and resources when we need them, while attracting to us the people and resources that are relevant and valuable, even if we were not even aware before that they existed,” the authors explain.

The power of pull “puts each of us, individually and together, in a position to collaborate in a complete re-imagination of our biggest private-and public-sector institutions, one that may eventually remake society as a whole,” they argue. “As customers, we have more choices, and more information with which to make those choices, than ever before. As talented employees we have greater power too than before, since we create the lion’s share of today’s corporate profitability.”

The authors are particularly enthusiastic about collaboration technologies and social networks as platforms for new “creation spaces.” Collaborative platforms – incorporating the video, voice, presence and web conferencing applications offered by companies such as Cisco – will no doubt prove to be a core factor in this regard by drawing team members as well as customers, suppliers and partners into creative interactions.

Such moves should pay off handsomely. The authors argue that the more participants you have in a collaborative network, the more gains you can make in terms of learning and performance. As opposed to the diminishing returns associated with traditional forms of production, these “network effects” promise to deliver increasing returns that contribute to continuing growth and success.

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