Push and pull

Telemarketers from the vendor with a push strategy call to sell you insurance as you sit down to dinner. The Hard Rock Café displays Bo Diddley’s guitar pick and plays throbbing music to pull you in. The itinerant Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman pushes; the Gilroy Garlic Festival is pull. Push is generally someone else’s idea; pull is what you think you want.

The Industrial Age was pushy. Owners predicted what would people would buy, built the factory, made large quantities to take advantage of economies of scale, and then tried to convince people to buy. Today change is so rampant and the future so unpredictable that Dell doesn’t build your computer until you order it. You cannot set up in advance when you don’t know what the future holds.

 

PUSH PULL
Assumes you can predict demand Assumes world is unpredictable
Anticipate Respond
Rigid, static Flexible, dynamic
Conform, core Innovate, edge
Monoliths, components glued together Small pieces, loosely joined
Program Platform
Get better at what you are currently doing Get better at whatever comes along
Standard content Standard interfaces

New management disciplines for the pull world all involve how organizations relate to one another (outsourcing, orchestration, productive friction). This, in turn, makes one think about where strategic advantage comes from. China is rapidly becoming the center for business management innovation, and this is the source of continuing advantage; copycats won’t catch you if you’re always ahead of them.

All of this is nurtured by networks stitched together with responsive, modular IT. 

Value, i.e. what it takes to stay ahead, used to reside in killer products or shrewd finance. In the pull world, value results from talent. Talent, in turn, is the result of maintaining relationships. The leading organizations of the future will be those with the ability to create and retain talent. Developing talent will become the role of the firm – and the way people choose who they want to work for.