John Hagel’s The Power of Pull

Last year, I met John Hagel, the co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, at SXSW.  He warmly shared with me a signed copy of The Power of Pull, described by John Doerr of famed VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, as “a powerful new meme for navigating and networking in the 21st century.”

Here are a few of the salient ideas (for me):

1.  We are shifting from a world of push, to a world of pull.  “Push operates on a key assumption that it is possible to forecast or anticipate demand.  We are pushed into educational systems designed to anticipate our needs over twelve or more years of schooling.  We consume media that is packaged, programmed and pushed to us based on our anticipated needs, etc.”

“Pull is a very different approach.  Pull helps us find and access people and resources.  It helps us attract people and resources that are relevant when we need them, even if we weren't aware that we needed them.  Think serendipity rather than search.  And

[pull] is the ability to draw from within ourselves the insight need to achieve our potential.”

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Here's how I'd apply what the “pull to me”, rather than “push-me”, idea:

In a “push” world when I want to prepare delicious meals, what I make is largely dependent on the cookbooks in my cupboard and the food I purchased at the grocery store yesterday.

In a “pull” world, I can sift through a seemingly infinite number of recipes online, then I can search SuperCook for something to make based on the ingredients already in my pantry.  When I tap into my social networks, asking “Hey, I've got zucchini in my garden, and want to make something fabulous. Any suggestions?”, it's entirely possible that someone in my network will steer me to 100 creative ways to prepare zucchini.  Or tell me about an online forum of people who love farmer's markets and exchange ideas on how to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables. Serendiptiy may kick in further when one of my contacts offers me a pass to a squash blossom festival.  If I have the ambition, within the space of a few short months, my culinary expertise can bound forward to an extent that was impossible in a “push” world.

2.  I now like World of Warcraft, a game my son really likes, more than I did.  “Whereas push programs treat all individuals like consumers, pull platforms treat individuals like creators, providing them with tools and resources to create new things in response to unanticipated demand.”  According to Hagel et al, World of Warcraft is a pull platform or creation space.  The players are drawn to the game “with a series of progressively more difficult challenges with continual feedback regarding performance levels.”  Hence this game that seems to be a mere distraction is actually preparing my son to participate in a knowledge economy, an economy in some ways presaged by Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.  Also, unbeknownst to me, the XXinTech space created by Rachel Sklar that I love is a pull platform.  My hope is Dare to Dream will become a creation space as well.

3.  Some aspects of Pull may come more easily to us than others.  It's important to disaggregate “pull” into its components:  access, attract and achieve, so that we can improve.  For example, I know people who deftly attract resources, but are less skilled at accessing.  I'm the reverse.  I can scour the globe for resources, but when serendipity walks in the door, I don't quite know what to do.  It's as if I'm scared, not sure how to accept the proffered gift.  “Whitney, I want to help you with your book”, says Jane Perdue earlier this week.  Wonderful.  But then I don't follow-up.  Not because I don't want to, but because I feel awkward.  After reading this book, I'm realizing that to achieve our dreams, it's important to know how to find and be found.  And, of course, ya gotta wanna.

Where are you experiencing the power of pull in your life?

Do you participate in any creation spaces?  What are they like?

Are you a triple threat?  You can access, attract and achieve?  Or are you like me, working on one of them?

How can you harness the power of pull to achieve your dreams?

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