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Provoke summary

Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach

How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws

4.6 (26 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Provoke by Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach is a business strategy book that challenges traditional thinking and encourages disruption, experimentation and adaptation in order to thrive in today's rapidly changing marketplace.

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    Sometimes the subtlest shifts signal the biggest future trends.

    Picture a generic office, sometime in the late 2000s: there’s a potted plant in the corner, a view of the city skyline through the window, and, leaning back in his chair, a high-ranking executive. Sitting across from him are two data analysts. They’ve just explained their latest findings to the exec – a healthy proportion of their client base is behaving exactly the same way it always does. But, a small percentage has started to change how it interacts with the company’s product. The analysts think this could be the start of a trend.

    The exec interrupts them: “What percentage are we talking about here?” he asks.

    “Only 1.75 percent,” say the analysts.

    The executive leans back in his chair. Not worth worrying about, he tells them. Meeting over.

    Right call? Or wrong call?

    Wait – before you answer that question, let me give you a little more context. The company in question was a big media company – think cable television. And the 1.75 percent of consumers? They were early adopters of video upload websites, like YouTube, where they were watching snippets of online content.

    The executive who decided those consumers weren’t worth worrying about definitely made the wrong call. And, hey, that’s understandable. Without the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to discern whether a statistic like that 1.75 percent is the first tremor of an earthquake that will radically reshape the consumer landscape or an anomaly that will never amount to anything.

    It’s impossible to give you a failsafe formula to tell earthquakes from anomalies. But the vast majority of corporations don’t see the early signs of earthquakes.

    Why not?

    Well, there’s a pattern to the way large corporations respond to environmental shifts and discrepancies that might signal a significant new trend.

    They miss the trend, even when it's obvious because they view it through the filter of their own experience. Remember our executive? His teenage kids may well have been watching YouTube clips right under his nose – but because he couldn’t imagine engaging with media in that way, he wasn’t interested.

    They overanalyze the trend. When data shows changes in consumer behavior what do most companies do? Double-check the numbers. Run more surveys. Assign task forces to prepare reports to present to management . . . You get the picture. By the time they’ve finished analyzing the trend, it’s far too late to get ahead of the trend.

    Finally, they respond to the trend – but it’s too little, far too late. Often, the best outcome a corporation in this position can hope for is to become a wind-down firm, on the path to obsolescence. And that’s okay! Firms that know they’re in the wind-down phase can often time their exit from the market sensibly and even make a profit in the process.

    For some people, winding down doesn’t sound so bad. It’s safer and easier than trying to pinpoint the next trend on the horizon, staying perpetually relevant and innovative. If that’s you – no judgment. But you can probably stop reading this Blink.

    If, on the other hand, you want to capitalize on and shape future trends, keep reading. 

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    What is Provoke about?

    Provoke (2021) draws lessons from provocative entrepreneurs who pinpointed key trends early and rode them to phenomenal success. What’s more, by outlining the key principles of future-oriented strategy, it shows how anyone can act to provoke the future outcomes they want for their business.

    Provoke Review

    Provoke (2016) is a thought-provoking book that challenges conventional thinking and encourages readers to ignite innovation. Here's what sets it apart:

    • It presents a bold, unconventional framework that helps individuals and organizations break free from the status quo and embrace new possibilities.
    • With its practical examples and case studies from successful companies, the book provides tangible insights into transforming challenges into opportunities.
    • The authors' straightforward approach and clear explanations make complex concepts accessible and ensure that the book is anything but dull.

    Who should read Provoke?

    • Anyone wondering how to future-proof their business
    • Entrepreneurs who’d like to turn their vision into reality
    • Managers who want to lead boldly and strategically

    About the Author

    Steven Goldbach is chief strategy officer for the consulting firm Deloitte. Geoff Tuff is a principal consultant at Deloitte, where he specializes in sustainability and innovation. Together, Goldbach and Tuff coauthored the best-selling book Detonate.

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    Provoke FAQs 

    What is the main message of Provoke?

    The main message of Provoke is to challenge the status quo and embrace disruption for business growth.

    How long does it take to read Provoke?

    Reading Provoke takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Provoke a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Provoke is an insightful read that offers fresh perspectives on driving innovation and making strategic choices.

    Who is the author of Provoke?

    The authors of Provoke are Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach.

    What to read after Provoke?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Provoke, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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