April 9, 2007

Hugh on ClueTrain

Filed under: marketing, talkmarks — Simone @ 8:26 am

I want to read The Cluetrain. I see a lot of similarities to what I’m trying to get here (heck, it may turn out I’m just getting something most got years ago, dunno). Anyway that’s definitely the next book on my list. While I check Amazon, have a look at this post from my favourite Hugh Macleod. Some interesting thoughts:

To me, The Cluetrain is the most important book about the internet ever written. Why? Because it was the first book that talked about the internet the way it REALLY is- i.e. people talking- as opposed to the way business and the media pretend it is- i.e. people buying.
A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Doc Searls (one of the authors of the Cluetrain) links back to Hugh’s post adding:

[…] blogging […] is often provisional. It’s not final. It’s what I’m thinking at a point in time, or what I’m passing along from somebody else. Such as this idea: Don’t take anybody too seriously.

Another interesting point. The conversation is getting smarter, but it’s also getting quicker (and, in a way, out of control). There’s a curious effect on this: what most companies fear of opening up to the conversation is that every post/link/mail/whatever is often put on the net forever for anybody to take, so you should only put the “right” stuff on the net. But being “right” is often a time-expansive process in most companies, especially big ones (here I consider “right” a statement that delivers a meaning that is agreed at all levels in a given company).

Being quick it’s hardly a decision today. To participate to the conversation you have to 1. listen and 2. speak (reverse order is possible). Both actions have to be nearly immediate. Would you talk to somebody that takes 1 month to reply? 2 days? Me neither.

So you have to let go the decision. Speaking of a conversation involving business matters (that’s what I call brand), this means empowering anybody in the company, to talk to the the people in the outer part of the membrane, with no alignment whatsoever. As you might imagine, that’s not nearly acceptable by most companies out there. They grew up to be right, and right was supposed to be a company-wide concept. Simply put, it cannot be re-evaluated by any manager/employee.

But now there may be a shortcut to an easier culture shift. If Doc is right, and people is ready to accept that most of the stuff you put into the conversation is provisional, then after all this is not a big deal. Companies may let go their people and – just in case – take some time to correct any mistake that was eventually made. When I think about it, I see that in the past we’ve taken days, months,  sometimes years to tell the “right” thing to consumers. Now what we’re telling is that you must be quick to put the wrong stuff into a conversation to some people.


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