I’m finally, finally reading the Cluetrain after so many years ago of bookmarking it, then finally giving in and just ordering the book from Amazon because otherwise I get online and have a tough time just focusing on what’s in the book – because it is so damn important.
Empowerment, communication, collaboration – I’m finally coming to accept, cannot and do not exist as anything more than buzzwords of the moment in context of today’s corporations or companies.
Even looking back at some of the business plans I’ve written in the last few years, it’s almost laughable to have seen how little some of the “innovation” of the ideas would have actually bought – without a radical transformation of the underlying business structure.
The beauty and terror of it all is that this can, and is changing – whether or not some companies choose to see it or not.
Good communication isn’t about delivering a company-wide email, or a CEO’s blog out to the employees.
It’s about respect for other people’s knowledge and talents, first, and making sure they have a platform to shout about their passions. And surprise(!) their passion may not even be their job – and that’s OK.
Their passion may be standing on their soapbox and calling your corporate leadership on their BS and carefully managed spin. And if you don’t encourage your employees to do this on your own platform (or intranet, whatever you want to call it), they are going to do it somewhere else, under an anonymous name, and it’ll still have the same chilling effect.
The Company’s only other option is to attempt to take control in entirety of the lives of their most important asset, their human resources (knowledge, talent, etc) – and die a painful and expensive death in the process.
Encouraging blogging (written, video, or otherwise), and wikis are simply ways of humans finding their voices again, sharing information that they care about, and in doing so reconnecting with their passions. Those passions are the very things that make us both uniquely individual, and collectively closer to other humans.
The management of a company reading and listening to and being engaged with the passions of their employees requires honesty, humility, a thick skin at times, and a sense of humor wherever you can find it.
If your business isn’t all that rational or honest with itself, then your business is either ripe for radical, disruptive change from within; or ripe for competitors that you’ll never see coming.