Book Review: Provoke


(By Buzz Knight) From the guys who brought you Detonate, Geoff Tuff and Stephen Goldbach, is the new book Provoke-“How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws.” The book is a welcome addition to any boardroom trying to navigate one of the most difficult times in our lifetime.

Geoff and Stephen are principals at Deloitte-A global consulting firm and they are well traveled leaders with tremendous insights into the psyche of business practices across every sector.

Clearly, these gents have seen it all and they apply their collective wisdom to making readers of the book smarter along the way.

Just by the titles of their two books, Detonate and Provoke these chaps are partial to one thing in particular: ACTION.

The book starts out by focusing on the notion of predictable patterns as a way of looking at patterns from the past that organizations ultimately face.
This at its core is why they wrote Provoke.

They have seen many real world examples of executives who:

  • Miss the Trend
  • Deny the Trend
  • Over Analyze the Trend
  • Respond Meekly to the Trend

Throughout the book when they illustrate a business case and evaluate executive behavior they come back to that one important solution: Provoke-Do Something!

Chapter Two addresses the importance of “If Versus When” when businesses deal with the critical job of trend-spotting and how to redefine an industry.

Vital in that process is understanding human behavior and forming hypotheses how industries can evolve.

Chapter Three really gets at Personal Patterns that affect business decisions and once again “pokes the bear” to elicit action as a result of being Provoked.

Of particular interest in that chapter is the notion of some businesses who choose not to adjust their business model and instead choose to be what they call “a wind down firm” one that is on life support ready to die.

To meet the challenges leaders need to expand their vision and in turn grow their talents with flexible, diverse thinking.

Geoff and Steven provide specific steps that leadership can provide to enhance the chances that employees can be provoked to action (one example is by appointing an internal devils advocate to help inject dissent and discussion at meetings where critical decisions are being made).

The authors also lay out what they call “Principles of Provocation” to help a company internally build a roadmap to action.

Respecting the past has a place but it is more critical in their mind to hold on to the past lightly.

Provoking the Future and finding a call to action to DO SOMETHING is the most critical point they keep returning to time and time again.

Businesses need to take control of their own destiny and at the heart of Provoke is the necessary temperament to induce change.

They highlight a great story about Intel and an interaction between Founder Gordon Moore and then COO Andy Grove.

Andy posed the question: “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO what do you think they would do?”

For that answer and for other specific tips on how to unlock the decision making process in your business I highly recommend Provoke.

This book is a must for the Radio Industry!

As Tuff and Goldbach would say: “DO SOMETHING.”

Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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