Friday, March 11, 2011

What Happens When You Poke the Box?

Poke the BoxSeth Godin released his latest manifesto, Poke the Box, last week. In the book, Godin encourages his readers to challenge the status quo.

Godin encourages us to be initiators – to start something – every day.

The concept of poking the box is bigger than thinking outside the box. It’s about re-shaping the box, or even creating the box from scratch. Thinking outside the box assumes there is an established right way. Poking the box is about creating something new, doing something entirely different, or entirely differently.

With the release of the book, Godin poked the box himself. He created the manifesto in a short period of time, released it without an agent or publisher, and made it available on Amazon for a limited time for $0.99 – all unconventional moves. He didn’t ask for permission or anyone’s blessing. He just did it.

But while Godin may be very happy to see you poke the box, not everyone will. There will be bosses, colleagues, family members, and others trying to hold you back, convincing you that it’s better not to rock the boat, or that you can’t challenge the status quo. Often they will win.

During my career in Corporate America I was a poker. I was first drawn to jobs where something new was being created, and later to jobs where we didn’t even know what the thing to be created was until after we started. It’s scary to be in that position, but it’s a whole lot more satisfying that simply implementing something someone else has created.

But poking didn’t always fare well for me. Not all of the projects I took on succeeded (to be expected according to Godin). When times were tough I found myself in a position where my job was at risk, and where employees under me lost their jobs. Those employees were some of the best initiators.

While I could deal with the failures, over time I was less willing to work within a system that didn’t recognize the inherent success within those failures. My solution was to decide to poke elsewhere.

Have you poked the box? What’s your story?

15 comments:

Liz Fichera said...

I'm a poker. It did not end well for me in Corporate America (at the time). But, as it turns out, it was the best thing that could have happened. No regrets.

Andree Santini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andree Santini said...

I too am a poker. At a time when my former company thought there was nothing new to create, I brought vision and began poking into multiple new boxes. Many of them are still unexplored, others have paid off well, and I have left corporate America to poke elsewhere.

Colette said...

Sounds like we're all in good company!

Carol Kilgore said...

Live-In Handyman is an outstanding poker. Me, not so much, although I have poked a time or two in Corporate America and it was much fun. However, since I create fiction, I suppose I do poke in my own way.

Colette said...

Carol, I do think most writers are pokers. Most journalists certainly fit the bill. Those writing fiction may be poking in subtler ways, but it's there!

One Womans Eye said...

Corporate America does not do well with pokers unless you poke according to their set of rules.
Have not read Seth's new book yet, but you have inspired me to pick it up.
Great post, as always!

Stephen D said...

Amazon: 55/75 - 5-star reviews; Kindle=$4.99; HC=$7.42; wheres the $1 copy?

Colette said...

Stephen D -- the 99 cents was offered on Kindle pre-orders.

Elle Strauss said...

Interesting concept. I think I am a poker, I just didn't identify the poking I was doing at the time. Thanks for sharing!

Colette said...

Elle, welcome! We pokers need to stick together!

Anonymous said...

I poked. I got fired!
I have learned that in Corporate America it is best to only poke that which is officially approved as being pokable. It is also better if you can show it has some business benefit (= profit to be made).

These days I work on the basis that "I need this job" so I keep my head down and only do approved poking which really isn't poking at all is it!

Of course, it could also be that I am not really a poker at all, just another follower with an opinion but who want to admit that!

Colette said...

I love this topic. Anonymous, unfortunately I think a lot of pokers find themselves in tough spots in Corporate America. Even when I was in "poking" jobs it wasn't always appreciated further up the chain of command.

Anonymous said...

On and off I've been considering poking this week. My way of seeing it is that the word of business (as well as the world in general) needs both pokers and non-pokers, I'm not one, and I'm not unhappy admitting it. Here's an alternative quotation that really inspires me: 'See everything. Overlook a great deal. Improve a little.' I don't know who said it.

Colette said...

I don't think everyone is destined to be a poker -- but I do think we all have times in our lives when we should poke.