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The Cluetrain Manifesto

95 Theses

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about "listening to customers." They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.

However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.

  1. Markets are conversations.

  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

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

  9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

  10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

  11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

  12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

  13. What's happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called "The Company" is the only thing standing between the two.

  14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

  15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

  16. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

  17. Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.

  18. Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.

  19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

  20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

  21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.

  22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

  23. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

  24. Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

  25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

  26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

  27. By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep markets at bay.

  28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company.

  29. Elvis said it best: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

  30. Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.

  31. Networked markets can change suppliers overnight. Networked knowledge workers can change employers over lunch. Your own "downsizing initiatives" taught us to ask the question: "Loyalty? What's that?"

  32. Smart markets will find suppliers who speak their own language.

  33. Learning to speak with a human voice is not a parlor trick. It can't be "picked up" at some tony conference.

  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.

  49. Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high.

  50. Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

  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.

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

  54. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well. Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.

  55. As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked knowledge workers and generate distrust in internetworked markets.

  56. These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking 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.

  58. If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then very few companies have yet wised up.

  59. However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive companies as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting.

  60. This is suicidal. Markets want to talk to companies.

  61. Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

  62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.

  63. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.

  64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

  65. We're also the workers who make your companies go. We want to talk to customers directly in our own voices, not in platitudes written into a script.

  66. As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research studies to introduce us to each other?

  67. As markets, as workers, we wonder why you're not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language.

  68. The inflated self-important jargon you sling around—in the press, at your conferences—what's that got to do with us?

  69. Maybe you're impressing your investors. Maybe you're impressing Wall Street. You're not impressing us.

  70. If you don't impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don't they understand this? If they did, they wouldn't let you talk that way.

  71. Your tired notions of "the market" make our eyes glaze over. We don't recognize ourselves in your projections—perhaps because we know we're already elsewhere.

  72. We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it.

  73. You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!

  74. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

  75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

  76. We've got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we'd be willing to pay for. Got a minute?

  77. You're too busy "doing business" to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we'll come back later. Maybe.

  78. You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

  79. We want you to drop your trip, come out of your neurotic self-involvement, join the party.

  80. Don't worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it's not the only thing on your mind.

  81. Have you noticed that, in itself, money is kind of one-dimensional and boring? What else can we talk about?

  82. Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?

  83. We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.

  84. We know some people from your company. They're pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you're hiding? Can they come out and play?

  85. When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn't have such a tight rein on "your people" maybe they'd be among the people we'd turn to.

  86. When we're not busy being your "target market," many of us are your people. We'd rather be talking to friends online than watching the clock. That would get your name around better than your entire million dollar web site. But you tell us speaking to the market is Marketing's job.

  87. We'd like it if you got what's going on here. That'd be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we're holding our breath.

  88. We have better things to do than worry about whether you'll change in time to get our business. Business is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom?

  89. We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

  90. Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most trade shows, more entertaining than any TV sitcom, and certainly more true-to-life than the corporate web sites we've been seeing.

  91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.

  92. Companies are spending billions of dollars on Y2K. Why can't they hear this market timebomb ticking? The stakes are even higher.

  93. We're both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they're really just an annoyance. We know they're coming down. We're going to work from both sides to take them down.

  94. To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down.

  95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Updating Your System

From Getting Things Done, by David Allen:

"The real trick to ensuring the trustworthiness of the whole organization system lies in regularly refreshing your psyche and your system from a more elevated perspective."
The Weekly Review has real power, the power to heal your mind and let you get your things done. Left undone, life and work come at you too fast for your overloaded mind to keep up. Once again you will find yourself overwhelmed, surrounded by "opportunities to excel". When you are surrounded by things that need to get done, tasks to be accomplished and calls to be returned, you can get the feeling that you have nowhere to turn. Without a coherent plan you will have no way to decide what choice to make, and then the feeling that any choice is the wrong one will leave you paralyzed, only to submerge beneath the waves of tasks and responsibilities.

So what do you do? What's the next action?

Be Prepared.

Block out some time in your busy schedule and create a plan for managing all of the pieces of your weekly review: what to collect, how to process it, where to organize it, when will this all get done?

The short answer is "now". The long answer is: in a few minutes, after you download & review these checklists: (links were broken, now they are fixed! Download away!!)

The Weekly Review Checklist

The Weekly Review Checklist is designed to keep your Projects and Next Actions from slipping through the cracks in your memory. Following from the principle of "ruthless iterations", it occurred to me that a Monthly Review and Quarterly Review should also be incredibly useful tools for keeping myself on track. Of course, you will need to edit and adjust these checklists to fit your own particular system. This is how I use it:

The Weekly Review
  1. Review the Tickler File ~ Look at all of the folders/pages from the past week, making sure that everything was done. Re-Tickle anything that didn't get done, if appropriate. Jot down any ideas that occur to you while reviewing and put them in the In-Box.
  2. Process the In-Box ~ I use this time to pay bills, update my checkbook, file receipts and papers and notes, clean out my wallet, and other little "housekeeping" chores. After the in-box has been emptied, I review and clean up the hPDA.
  3. Calendar Review ~ Simply reviewing the time-specific actions and information from the past week. Does any of it need to get archived for possible retrieval? Then I synchronize my diary with G-Cal, focusing on the full month ahead. My wife and I share a Google calendar, and it has made a world of difference. Finally, in the spirit of efficiency, I process any emails that are sitting in the inbox.
  4. Project Review ~ First I close and archive any completed Projects, prepared to jot down any ideas that occur to me as I do this. Next, I update current and forthcoming Projects on the @Project List by asking myself if the Project is still worthwhile. I have saved a great deal of time by letting go of projects that had turned away from the original goal, or if the goal of the project had shifted. While reviewing each Project, I can check the status of Next Actions that are in @Waiting For, and tickle or calendar a contact action for the person responsible for getting back to me. (Do not actually email them now, the purpose of this exercise is review, not do)
  5. Next Action Review ~ Clean up the @Next Action list with the focus on "is the action/project still worthwhile" and "what is being waited on". This is the third time the @Next Action list has been looked over by now, so any Next Actions remaining should be valid.
  6. Review the Someday/Maybe list ~ Has the Review brought any ideas to the front of your mind that need to be logged here?
  7. Review Support Files ~ Scan through these files and archives for inspiration.
  8. Brainstorm Creative Ideas ~ What would your current projects look like from beyond the completion date? Envision wild success, what is the best possible result? Capture the features, concepts, and possibilities that you imagine as a result of this success.

When you have completed your Weekly Review, archive it with your notes in a dated folder, so that you can access it easily at the end of the month. Incorporating a scan of your Weekly Reviews into your Monthly Review is very important to your overall success.

The Monthly Review is an expanded version of the Weekly Review. The first five Actions on the Monthly Checklist correspond directly to the Weekly Checklist, and should go quickly. Number six on the Monthly Checklist is a little different:
  • 6. Review Someday/Maybe list ~ Are your Roles/Current Responsibilities in line to achieve these far-off goals? Can any of them be moved in the category of @1-2 Year Goals or @3-5 Year Vision? It is important to keep an eye on your long-term goals, so that they do not stay in the category of "long-term goals".
  • 7. Review Roles/Current Responsibilities ~ The Monthly Review has a new number seven: The concept of Roles is from Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", and these roles should be reviewed monthly, checking your progress on the goals that you have set. If there is a disconnect between these roles and your long-range plans, now is the time to fix it.
  • 8. Review 1-2 Year Goals ~ Is the Goal still worthwhile? This is an important question to ask yourself, as conditions may have changed or you may wish to increase (or decrease) the importance of certain aspects of your life. Is it appropriate to move any of these goals into @Next Actions or @Projects?
  • 9. Review Support Files ~ This is the same as the Weekly Review.
  • 10. Brainstorm Creative Ideas ~ Focus on your Roles/Current Responsibilities. Are there any that could be changed or improved?

Again, when you have completed your Monthly Review with its notes, archive it in a dated folder, so that you have easy access to it at the end of the quarter. You are working on a larger scale now, so incorporating a scan of your Monthly Reviews into your Quarterly Review will aid in keeping you on track to achieving your long-term goals.

Finally, the Quarterly Review Checklist. Designed to be a supplement to the Monthly Checklist, it guides your focus onto longer-term goals and higher-level values:
  1. Review 3-5 Year Goals ~ Is it still worthwhile? Always a good question for clarifying intentions. Can any of these get moved up into a new category such as @Next Actions, @Projects, or @1-2 Year Goals? Brainstorm one thing that can get done this Quarter to advance one or more of these goals.
  2. Review Career Goals ~ Are you where you want to be? Where do you want to go? What Next Action can be undertaken this Quarter to advance your career goals? Use the Tickler File to help track your progress.
  3. Review Purpose ~ Are your Principles still in line? Brainstorming will help most here.
  4. Review Lifestyle ~ Once again, are your choices still valid? In line with Values and Principles? Are your Roles and Current Responsibilities in harmony with the Lifestyle you have? With the Lifestyle that you want? What are two positive changes that you can make to improve your lifestyle this Quarter?

Another dated archive folder should be created to contain this Quarterly Review and the attendant Monthly Reviews. Take good notes that you incorporate into your system as it is currently running, with a copy of these notes in the archive. You will want to review this Worksheet and these notes at the following Quarterly Review in order to track your progress. In addition, you will want to do an Annual Review at the end of the fourth Quarter, in which you review the results of the Quarterly progress reports. The Annual Review is beyond the scope of this post, as I have not been practicing GTD long enough to have done one! I anticipate that such a Worksheet would have features involving taking a good, hard look at the Roles and Current Responsibilities; it may have a 1-2 Year Goal review, including choosing one to accomplish in the coming year; I believe that introducing a 3-5 Year Vision tracking tool would be useful; it should definitely feature a Someday/Maybe review tool as well. I have created a rough draft of this tool, that I will refer to at each Quarterly Review, in order to implement the best tracking system.

I do not expect this to be taken as the be-all and end-all of Review Checklists, but I look at it as a good starting point for directing the evolution of my GTD system. I encourage you to alter the checklists for your own use, and please, feel free to respond with any suggestions or improvements.

There is a related post at Studentlinc with a downloadable PDF of a Weekly Schedule Planner:

» Weekly View section - The weekly calendar sits on the left hand side of the paper. Each day is a box, with Saturday/Sunday sharing a box. The boxes have a place to write in the date. They also have a set of of boxes that a person can use to write in the corresponding numbers from the todo section. This has helped me assign various todo's to certain days of the week.

» ToDo section - This section is on the upper right hand side of the paper. It is set up so the person can organize his/her todo's according to roles or categories (thank you Stephen Covey for that idea!). Each role has enough spaces to list five todo's. The todo's are given numbers that can be referred to in the weekly view or in the open space below.

» Notes | Ideas | Space section - This section is a wide open space on the bottom right hand portion of the page. It is the place where I find myself writing down everything I wrote down on post-it notes or index cards. It is a free-for-all space. I've added the letters A-Z down the left hand side of this space in case there's something you'd like to add and refer back to it in another section.

[hat tip: ti mage]


Anonymous said...
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Stephen said...
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Elias said...

Great! How about The DAILY Review?

Stephen said...

@elias: Hey, check out the DIYplanner.com and look for the Emergent Task Planner, that should be just what you are looking for.