BY POLLY LABARRE | SEPTEMBER 30, 2001
So what is Net attitude — and how do you get it?
Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can’t Survive Without It, by John R. Patrick (Perseus, 2001)
As the Internet Revolution has given way to the Internet Inquisition, most of the attitude coming from Net-centric executives has been confessional — mea culpas for the irrational exuberance and media hype. Don’t expect that attitude in the new book from John Patrick, IBM’s vice president of Internet technology, who remains upbeat about the transforming power of digital technologies. Patrick has been a savvy and tireless shepherd of digital innovations inside IBM, and Net Attitude is a lot like Patrick himself: accessible, immediately credible, infused with unabashed curiosity, profound and practical at the same time.
So what is Net attitude — and how do you get it? At its most basic, Patrick argues, Net attitude is “extroverted” and “people-oriented.” You get it by moving from “inside-out” to “outside-in” when it comes to planning strategy, designing new products, and organizing your work. It requires the ability to think big, the restraint to start simple, and the capacity to grow fast. As obvious as all this is to Patrick, he understands how deeply it cuts against the grain of most businesspeople. That’s why he leaves his readers with a robust checklist of the most profound and the most mundane things they can do to get the right attitude. But the best take-away by far is Patrick’s exhortation to keep “moving out a bit closer to the edge — where things are somewhat uncertain, where you don’t have the control you would like to have, but where innovation is happening continuously.”