Get Back in the Box

Douglas Rushkoff has written an excellent new book called Get Back In The Box. I’ve been reading it on the beach in Kerala after picking up a copy in Bangalore airport. Not that I’m rubbing it in or anything.

I hesitate to call it a business book, although that’s definitely the market it’s aimed at, because it’s much more about the implications of changes in personal outlooks and social organisation. It reinforces much of what Paul Skidmore and I wrote in Disorganisation.

The basic point of the book is that innovation happens when you know your stuff, enjoy your job and the organisation’s aims and ambitions are in line with those of its employees and customers. Except he tells that story much more convincingly — peppered with interesting and relevant examples.

I’ve been a Rushkoff fan since 2003 when we brought him over to London to launch the pamphlet he wrote for Demos called Open Source Democracy (some of the book is actually drawn from it). The pamphlet was alright but didn’t have the zing of the new book. What really got me were the talks and the discussions that Rushkoff gave and the chats I had with him in between times. I guess I fell for his overall philosophy of work, or play as it should really be described.

Between them Doug Rushkoff, Steven Johnson, Pat Kane and Charlie Leadbeater had quite a lot to do with my decision to go freelance at the end of last year. It wasn’t necessarily what they wrote that got me, but meeting them, talking to them and realising that at heart, like them, I have a play ethic not a work ethic — I like experimenting and pushing the system rather than just working within it.

Hopefully Rushkoff’s new book will convince a few organisations to become more hospitable places to play.

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