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Conversations at Work: Lessons from the Cluetrain

As promised this post will cover my reading of the 10th anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto. What a great book and I feel a bit embarrassed that I didn’t read this book 10 years ago. This book is entertaining, insightfull and still ahead of it’s time. A lot of things the authors talk about is taking place in some organizations but is still a long way for most organizations.  

Obviously the first lessons is that “markets are conversations” and as Jake McGee outlines it is very hard to fully understand this thesis and truthfully apply it. How can you have real conversations? What is your voice, what is your opinion? How can I start a conversation? With whom?

The second lesson for me is a construct of the following theses:

8 In both a internetworked markets and amoung intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way

53 There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market.

56 These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking in the same language. They recognize each other’s voices.

57 Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.   

For me the lesson is about the conversations between comployees is equally important than conversations in the market and the conversation between employees and the market is even more important. If you understand that there are more smart people working outside your company than inside, the only smart think to do is to enable conversations between employees and the markt. This lesson is also about the changing role of the organization, embodied mostly by the communications department. Your role has to change to get out of the way and help the inevitable happen sooner. That is you need to facilitate conversations and not be the one that talks to the customer and the employee. Your work needs to move up one level and you need to think about ways to improve conversations that you cannot  manage.

The third important lesson is quoted from Dan Gilmore “The ultimate [journalistic] tool is the human brain: our ability to learn, absorb and adapt. In a conversational mode, we do all of the more effectively. And what is the first rule or a conversation? To listen” Listening is also the most difficult part, that we all have forgotten how to do. Being generally interested in one and other and taking the time to focus on the other. This means to forget about your iPhone or blackberry for 10 minutes! Stop all these interruptions and focus! For a nice article on interruptions and attention look at this post form Nick Carr (thanks to @driessen).

For a great explanation of listening, watch the TEDtalk by Evelyn Glennie!

What were your important lessons from the Cluetrain?


The Cluetrain Manifesto, the 10th anniversary edition

June 30 this year was the release date of the revised edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto. This book was written by four gentlemen: Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger. Here I must admit the I have only read the start of this book on it’s first release 10 years ago. So I am going to make it up to myself actually and I am going to read it now. Bonus for not having read the first edition that in this edition some commentary is added by Jake McGee, J.P. Rangaswami and Dan Gilmor. I have added their blogs to the digital workspace blogroll on the left side. With one exception: the blog of Rick, Seth Ellis Chocolatier (sorry), the blog tells the story of founding a small chocolate manufacturer!

Later on this year I will blog about the revised edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto!

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Three types of social media inside your organization

When you look at a definition of social media I came across in a research paper that was made for Kennisnet by Mark Schoondorp of Winkwaves. The definition Mark used is “Social Media facilitates organized forms to act together”. I interpret acting together as to add value together in a work setting.  When you think of social media as channels or platforms that can be used to facilitate adding value together, you might come up with the following three types of channels: digital channels, physical channels and organizational channels.

Digital channels are the usual suspect. Tools like twitter, blogs and wikis can be used to add value together at work. These tools get a lot of attention at the moment. But physical channels or platforms can be a great accelerator for adding value. A office design that is inspiring will add value. A layout can enable the right social connections. Even the organization itself can be a channel. Can organizing get-togethers to tell stories or a off-site teambuilding session be social media?

I my opinion these three types of social media need to be aligned for the best results. If you interact with someone on twitter you only enter a new level of trust if you have met offline. Storytelling events in the company restaurant will have a bigger impact if they are continued online. Standalone will work and facilitate your efforts but a new level of performance will more likely be reached when all social media types are aligned.