On a landscape that seems to be transforming itself with every new technology, marketing tactic, or investment strategy, businesses rush to embrace change by trading in their competencies or shifting their focus, altogether. All in the name of innovation.
But this endless worrying, wriggling, and trend-watching only alienates companies from whatever it is they really do best. In the midst of the headlong rush to think “outside the box,” the full engagement responsible for true innovation is lost. New consultants, new packaging, new marketing schemes or even new CEO’s are no substitute for the evolution of our own expertise, as individuals and as businesses.
Indeed, for all their talk about innovation, most companies today are still scared to death of it.
To Douglas Rushkoff, this disconnect is not only predictable, but welcome. It marks the happy end of a business cycle that began as long ago as the Renaissance, and ended with the renaissance in creativity and collaboration we’re going through today.
The age of mass production, mass media, and mass marketing may be over, but so, too, is the alienation it engendered between producers and consumers, managers and employees, executives and shareholders and, worst of all, businesses and their own core values and competencies.
American enterprise, in particular, is at a crossroads. Having for too long replaced innovation with acquisitions, tactics, efficiencies, and ad campaigns, many businesses have dangerously lost touch with the process – and fun – of discovery.
“American companies are obsessed with window dressing,” Rushkoff writes, “because they’re reluctant, no, afraid to look at whatever it is they really do and evaluate it from the inside out. When things are down, CEO’s look to consultants and marketers to rethink, re-brand or repackage whatever it is they are selling, when they should be getting back on the factory floor, into the stores, or out to the research labs where their product is actually made, sold, or conceived.”
Rushkoff backs up his arguments with a myriad of intriguing historical examples as well as familiar gut checks – from the dumbwaiter and open source to Volkswagen and The Gap – in this accessible, thought-provoking, and immediately applicable set of insights. Here’s all the help innovators of this era need to reconnect with their own core competencies as well as the passion fueling them.
“I read Nothing Sacred reluctantly, from a stance of deep skepticism, and learned to my delight and enlightenment, that this is truly a Jewish approach. Rushkoff uses millennia of Jewish teachings to reveal that God is indeed to be questioned not obeyed, created not worshipped, continually revised, reconsidered, and debated – not graven in stone. I truly believe this book might end up as one of the most important works of Jewish literature, worthy of comparison with Maimonides and Buber. Many will be outraged and even furious at Rushkoff for daring to revise the Jewish tradition of self-questioning. I thank him for helping me feel like a Jew again.” –Howard Rheingold
“This is one of the most important books I have read about contemporary faith, and particularly about Judaism. It is uncompromising and honest and brilliant and true. It will be a painful revelation to many, but also, for all of us, a burst of badly needed intellectual and spiritual oxygen and light.” –Naomi Wolf
“Nothing Sacred is the work of Rushkoff the scholar and Rushkoff the evangelist. As a responsible scholar, Rushkoff includes a bibliography, an index and a full appendix of background commentary for each chapter. But Rushkoff the passionate, some would say rambunctious, evangelist preaches his mission text virtually full throttle-no endnotes, little cautiously calibrated debate with dissenting sources, and only minimal compassionate coddling for Jews who might be scandalized, fearful or confused. To Rushkoff it is so clear, so obvious; it’s time to “do Judaism the good way and the smart way,” first to/with Jews and then to/with Gentiles.” – Gwen Nowak, Books in Canada