Push vs. pull

The non-networked world was driven by push. The merchant stocked goods and waited for you to come buy them. The manufacturer made things in advance and advertised so you’d go buy them. The cab waited by the corner hoping you’d come out and hail it. The door-to-door salesperson went door to door…

But the web amplifies pull instead. When you need something, you tell Google or Amazon or Lyft or Shopify and they bring it to you. The ratio of inventory to demand has shifted dramatically–instead of one encyclopedia in every single house that sits idly waiting for you to need it, there’s just one Wikipedia, available to be pulled by anyone, at will.

When we seek to make change, our instinct is to start pushing. But shifting to pull can create efficiencies that can’t be matched by mass promotion.