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Freedom creates the middle-class, reduces hardship and defines growing success for all; dirty statism and its beguiling relatives communitarianism and social rights are eliminating it.

Todd Sampson

Thanks John. Great post, as usual.

It seems like the tools that are emerging on the internet, and many of the examples in The Power of Pull, are available to everyone -- inside or outside the corporation. Passionate people are using these tools to create amazing things, from open source software using Github to new products funded through Kickstarter, without the need for the corporation. And since the tools being used are built at such a large scale, how could a corporation ever hope to offer something more to its team members? (Even when knowledge stocks were more valuable than today, how often did people search the corporate intranet before hitting Google?)

Have you seen any new examples of institutions being able to provide better access to learning, resources, and/or collaborative acceleration for individuals than they can access on their own?

John Maloney

Guess this is informative for some people, but it is just (yawn) a retread of concepts discovered ‘bout 15-20 years ago. It usually takes 2.5 generations (50 years) to retire such key concepts as Coase's transaction-cost economics (TCE). It's well underway. It not because of lofty books but because it sucks and doesn't work anymore. The knowledge-based view (KBV) is on the rise.

Why can't it happen faster? It is because of overreaching govt regulation, unions and indifference to innovation for starters.

What is a more perfect example of reducing "work to highly specified and standardized instructions" than a labor union contract the size of the Manhattan phone book? It's classic push. What imbeciles say, 'pay teachers more' to get MORE push crap that fails students, parents and society w/confidence? Good grief.

It is high time to get our 'pushy' deficit-based, obese government apparatus out of the way.

For example, welfare, a classic govt push, expands the very problem it is supposedly intended to fix: poverty. How dim are people?

Take healthcare. Do people really want US healthcare reduced to a push system of “highly specified and standardized instructions” from a central govt? Are people fucking insane? What is WRONG with people?

Pull IS great an powerful, but govt is in the way.

Liberty creates the middle class, relieves poverty and achieves growing prosperity for all; filthy statism and its beguiling cousins communitarianism and social justice are killing it.


Hi John - Great post and timely as I just watched Andrew MacAfee's related TED presentation yesterday. I did walk away, enjoying the analysis, but found the conclusion a bit pollyannish.

I think we should all be a bit concerned about letting the systems 'run the show' without human intervention - that can lead to runaway situations which machines chase optimization in a way that is destructive - like automatic trading sell-offs.

We shouldn't forget that as good as the algorithms are and will get, they are 'predictive' based on assumptions and can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies that reinforce biases of algorithm designers. There's also the Black-Swans you point out and unknown-unknowns - we can't assume too much.

If we can replace journalists with software agents that can write 'perfect' articles, sure we can replace CEOs, CFOs, etc with imperfect records and bloated salaries.... very inefficient!

This takes us to a pretty dark place. At it's core this thinking is Anti-Social. If, in our quest for reduce transaction costs to increase access to goods and services for people (a social good), we accept increasingly high-levels of unemployment (reducing buying power and status of people), this is going to disrupt the social compact.

Unless we are moving to a Utopian candy mountain, unlikely, I agree that we need to re-think and re-organize the enterprise. We need to shift from hierarchical/reductionist system thinking to networked/collaborative systems.

I wrote an article on this in a tech journal last year - http://www.infoq.com/articles/social-lean-agile. It cites your work on the "Shift Index".

Best Regards,

Jonathan Dean

Hi John...Thank you. I always enjoy your excellent posts and books very much.

A question, though (and I have read Power of Pull, but don't recall the answer clearly); you write:
"In pull-driven institutions, participants are no longer fungible cost items but instead become fully visible as assets with the potential for virtually unlimited development."

My question is why is this? Why are pull-driven institutions not just a different set of processes being performed, with employees performing fundamentally repetitive actions?

Very much appreciate any insight and help with this.


John, as always, great analysis and insight. I'm optimistic that the time is right for the ideas you offer to take root on a broad scale. In conversations with people ranging from my sailing buddies to academics from technology institutes in Germany, there is agreement that work is becoming more flexible and with a greater demand for personal innovation.

People are seeing that human, technology, & institutions provide the building blocks and that we must push forward with transparency, responsibility, and growth (I'm trial ballooning my book proposal here). ...and I'm seeing entrepreneurs begin to build the tools to support these new forms of work. We have the tools and broad motivation - in the past we may have only had the motivation from the grass roots -- the time seems right.



It is a great article, thanks for sharing

The question I would have is, how do we transform existing push institutions ? I understand building "pull" institutions, but changing existing ones is extremely hard. As you write: "what about all those wonderful things that the authors indicate will never likely be automated – imagination, creativity, genuine insight and emotional and moral intelligence? These attributes have no place in the push driven institutions we have built. They are ruthlessly rooted out wherever they rear their ugly heads"

Actually, the corporate function that should be responsible for fostering imagination and creativity (HR), is today the owner of the classic managerial mindset in most corporations. And even though, individually, many HR executives would like to move in the direction you point out, moving the system is just to hard.

I argued some years ago (http://luisalberolasblog.blogspot.fr/2009/12/beyond-enterprise-20-age-of-builders.html) that the E2.0 movement was an opportunity as it allowed HR to frame a strategy to develop the firm employees from "users" to "contributors" to "builders". But I still do not see that happening at scale.

Maybe you have some examples of push firms transforming themselves into pull firms ?



Great writeup. Thanks for moving the conversation forward here and on other channels.

- Brian


In general, I agree that the issue is institutional, though I would dig even deeper and say the problem, ultimately, is one of mindset. For generations, we've been conditioned to think linearly, with predictable changes and growth curves. Technology and the internet, however, are progressing exponentially, often in chaotic fits and spurts. The gap between these the linear and exponential mindsets, though slight at first, is widening. As a result, our current institutions, models and structural concepts are stretched to the breaking point.

As you articulate very well, there is a growing disconnect between the institutional architectures we've developed since the industrial age and what is needed today. I appreciate thinkers, like yourself, who've identified these trends and can articulate them to help spread the message. Unfortunately, these are radically new concepts to most individuals, particularly those most affected by these changes, and I've seen little substantive discussion about this in the popular media today. Are you seeing business leaders embracing the pull mindset or it is still an edge concept?

Thanks for the thought-provoking blog post!

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