The McKinsey Quarterly has an article by John Hagel and John Seely Brown about “pushing resources into the areas of greatest anticipated need. ”
In today’s business world, highly automated factories or service platforms, supported by rigid and standardized processes, deliver resources to the right places at predetermined times. In information technology, massive enterprise applications specify activities to be performed and resources to be deployed to meet anticipated demand. In education, standard curricula expose students to codified information through a predetermined sequence of experiencesan approach many corporations follow in their employee training.
In each of these examplesand in “push” systems generallythe core assumptions are that companies and other institutions can anticipate demand and that mobilizing scarce resources in previously specified ways is the most efficient and reliable way to meet it. But the efficiency of push systems comes at a stiff price, for they require companies to specify, monitor, and enforce detailed activities and tasks. This rigidity necessarily restricts the number and diversity of the participants in push models, thus limiting the innovation and learning that can take place in them. It also tends to turn workers into mere instruments of management at a time when self-directed effort from a broad range of employees is ever more essential to big corporations.