Poke the box. Or not.

I was reading the textbook when my classmate, a girl a decade younger than me, proudly announced: “I never read a textbook page by page. I use it when I need a quote of theory for assignment.”

Okay. That’s how you use the textbook. I don’t think I have misinterpreted the emotion in that announcement but I can’t figure out why it is a thing should be proud of. I blame the generation gap.

Again, I think if a lecture is the potion of an iceberg shown above the sea, then the book is the massive potion that hidden below. Reading the textbook really helps fill in the knowledge gap the lecturer fail the bridge in the short lesson. I hope she would find the way to the hidden gem soon.

The above story may or may not related to the book I am going to share. I believe there is certain connection between the two. The review below is heavily biased. Read at your risk.

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Poke the Box, the second book I read written by Seth Godin. I really like the question on the cover: when was the last time you did something for the first time. That’s what I ask myself nearly every day: I should do something new and different today and what will that be?

It’s a small book, even smaller than Purple Cow. I believe one can finish it within a few hours. It is composed by many small passages around the main theme: Be an initiator, poke the box and take risk. I didn’t finish it. I abandoned it half-way with no regrets. There is a possibility that if I persist to read it through, then I may not make the (inappropriate?) comment below, but I decided not to continue.

I really like the ideas of being an initiator and poking the box. I had been benefited of being an initiator and rewarded with extra opportunities. I also believe if everyone could aim to do their job better instead of just get their done, the world could be saved! What I don’t agree is that the reason of not poking the box is simply risk failure. Poke the box could lead to consequences that worse than failure, like, harmony. It may be a cultural thing. Chinese generally believe in maintaining harmony, especially in workplace. when you are poking the box, you accidentally poke other business which break the harmony. I once found that the order follow-up could be done better, but it was customer services job and not mine (marketing). Should I initiate a review of procedure? I don’t think so. What I could do, and have done, is to speak with the customer service manager about it and see if she could do somethings. If the advice not taken, I have no right to do anything.

Poke the box is good, but tread carefully. The last thing you want is invade others’ responsibility and risk breaking the harmony.

Moreover, I found that when one is promoted to management, one could possibly forget the limitations of being at the bottom of a food chain. Once, I told my manager of possible pitfalls if we stick to the old protocol and she told me I should just go tell the colleague (in the same grade as me) what to do if I saw any problem. Hello! I am not a manager who have the rights and responsibility to initiate such things. Why  I am telling you? I think you are the one who are responsible to tell the colleague. Not everybody could be an initiator, at least not as the book promoted.

At the end, I would like to emphasize that I am a believer to try something new and different and think outside the box. That’s why the blog. However, there are other considerations. There are always two sides of a coin.

 

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