Poke the Box, by Seth Godin

Poke the BoxPoke the Box by Seth Godin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Poke the Box should have been titled Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – The Remix as Godin brings nothing new to the table other than a relationship with Amazon and some promotional pricing gimmicks. It’s his usual mix of paper-thin insights and exhortations to be bold! to lead! to ship! — but with notably less energy or conviction than usual, as if he wrote it in between blog posts over a rare quiet weekend.

I pre-ordered the Kindle version for $1 and read it in a total of about 2 hours, and would still rather pay full price for the hardcover version of Tribes, a far superior book that I not only devoured and raved about 2.5 years ago, but bought copies for my entire staff at the time, and still recommend to people on a regular basis.

Perhaps the most interesting idea in the book gets buried in his Stuart Smalley-esque shtick:

One reason organizations get stuck is that they stick with their “A” players so long that they lose their bench. In a world that’s changing, a team with no bench strength and a rigid outlook on the game will always end up losing.

It’s a concept worth exploring further, and one that fits perfectly under Tribes‘ philosophical umbrella, but in Poke it’s an odd aside that gets glossed over.

One of Godin’s running themes throughout Poke is to be an initiator, and that risking failure is the best road to achieving success, and by making it the first offering from The Domino Project, he’s practicing what he preaches. He initiated, he shipped, and he pretty much failed to deliver a good book.

Now the question will be whether or not “Powered by Amazon” and his marketing gimmicks have introduced him to a wider audience than Portfolio, his previous publisher, could have, and whether or not The Domino Project’s bench is deep enough to give this publishing experiment real legs.

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