John Cass over at the PR Communications Blog posted an excellent, thoughtful piece about the Cluetrain Manifesto.
His examination centers around (at least in my mind) two primary themes of the Manifesto:
- That companies need to ‘get out of the way’ and ‘let the inevitable happen’. The ‘inevitable’ in this case is the formation of smarter, more dispersed markets via what we now call social media.
- And that command and control within a company is a bad thing that should go away.
I won’t rewrite John’s points here. You can read his excellent post for yourself.
I do have three comments though:
First, I agree that the Manifesto totally missed the boat when it said that companies need to get out of the way. Smart companies like Dell empower their employees and then act on what those employees, and their customers, tell them. Only a smart, strong company can do that. In my mind, that’s why Microsoft has failed to capitalize on the changing nature of media and communications: They empower their employees, but they have grown too ponderous to act.
Second, command and control is definitely something that must stick around. See my first point, above. But command and control is only as good as leadership. Folks who aren’t good leaders need to have the courage and intelligence to understand that and step gracefully over to the roles at which they excel.
Finally, I do not think that social media as it currently exists can deliver the ultimate promise of the Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s too anarchic. The people with smart answers are often drowned out by the crass jokes, spam and generally poor communicators. A network is only as good as its nodes. If we’re going to rely on social networks to give us all our answers, we’re doomed.
The challenge now is to figure out how we can let these networks evolve and sort out the best from the worst answers in a fair, intelligent, hard-to-manipulate way.
John, I hope this is helpful, and not just some random babbling during my kids’ bathtime on a Thursday evening…