If you are looking for inspiration in life or something to motivate you even more so than you already are, then look no further than Seth Godwin’s ‘Poke the Box‘. The main contention of Seth’s book is that the world has plenty of capacity to make stuff or do stuff, what it needs is people to initiate stuff. Seth makes a strong point that the most valuable people are those that try something new. They often fail, yet continue to keep on trying through learning and revising what they do.
The “box” is a metaphor for the system which is the world we live in. By poking it, you deliberately disturb the status quo. You challenge boundaries. Ask ‘what if?’. By doing so you become a ‘poker’, a high value add initiator creating something we do not have today.
The book is structured as if you were reading Seth’s blog posts in an RSS reader, which although can seem a little disconnected, are actually interrelated around the key theme if initiating and poking the box.
Seth’s book got me thinking about the types of people in an organisation, and the respective value add they can bring to a company. I will start with Seth’s ‘poker’ and add a few I think are common place.
Your A side
Clearly top of the list is your ‘Poker’. The ‘Poker’ someone who initiates change in an organisation. Ideas and staring stuff tops the list, but you definitely need a resource person. Lets call them the ‘Stoker’. They are stoking your initiator’s fires, through their own hard labor or funding the initiator.
Your B side
Keeping the wheels turning are your ‘Brokers’. They are brokering your Pokers solutions and their own ability. These players are chasing the action, turning some cogs, but generally just doing what they are told to do occasionally reinventing themselves to do some new things. With the right encouragement they can come off the ‘bench’ and play a role in your A side.
Your C side
Unfortunately there are always some passengers in the work place, one of which I call the ‘Stroker’. The Stroker likes to stroke ideas, projects or initiatives that are going somewhere or on the way up. They then take credit for some or all of the work and bask in the glory. Great at self promotion, but low value add on most other levels, strokers can be hard to detect, especially if they have made a career out of it.
So why do these people fall into the B and C team you ask? I think Seth sums it up best in his story ‘The Fear of Wrong’.
“It’s not surprising that we hesitate. Starting maximizes the chances of ending up wrong.
Here’s the nightmare, and it’s a vivid one: The boss finds someone who did something wrong and she hassles / disciplines / humiliates / fires her.
If you’re not wrong, that’s not going to happen.
On the other hand, there’s the other scenario: The boss finds someone who didn’t start, who never starts, who always stuies or criticizes or plays devil’s advocate, and she hassles /disciplines / humiliates / fires her.
Oh, forgive me for teasing you; that never happens.
The typical factory-centric organization places a premium on not-wrong, and spends no time at all weeding out those who don’t start. In the networked economy , the innovation-focused organization has no choice but to obsess about those who don’t start.
Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.”
Go ahead, start something today!
Note: It is good to be back blogging! After a hiatus with a new job that has been keeping me more than a little occupied.