“Lack of open conversation kills companies.”

Dear John,
Why are you so quiet?
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From The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual and its 95 Theses:

34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

35. But first, they must belong to a community.

36. Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.

37. If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.

38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

40. Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.

41. Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

42. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

43. Such conversations are taking place today on corporate intranets. But only when the conditions are right.

44. Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other corporate information that workers are doing their best to ignore.

45. Intranets naturally tend to route around boredom. The best are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranetworked corporate conversation.

46. A healthy intranet organizes workers in many meanings of the word. Its effect is more radical than the agenda of any union.

47. While this scares companies witless, they also depend heavily on open intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to “improve” or control these networked conversations.

48. When corporate intranets are not constrained by fear and legalistic rules, the type of conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the conversation of the networked marketplace.

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Worth noting:

• National Geographic’s Communications division recently allotted $1.5 million to “improve” NG’s intranet.

• A new Director of Internal Communications will soon be hired to frame and manage the corporate “conversation.”

• Interested in applying for the job? If so, here’s the sort of content you’ll need to generate during what is perhaps one of the most dramatic and challenging periods in the history of publishing — and in the history of our Society.

From the NGS intranet:

May 11, 2011

April 27, 2011

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More from Cluetrain:

51. Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.

52. Paranoia kills conversation. That’s its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.

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Dear John: Let’s Talk.

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.