24 July 2007

Cluetrain: Manifesto Revisited...

When was the last time you revisited the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto? There are some nuggets here that remain timeless, even though they were written over 7 years ago. Here are some of the classics:

  • Markets are conversations.
  • Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?" Smart markets will find suppliers who speak their own language.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
In a hyperlinked, social networked, iPhone rich society the authors and founders of the Cluetrain Manifesto must have had a crystal ball. The "end of business as usual" has been accelerating and the exponential explosion of zero's and one's has produced a global economy. Just look at the saturation of IP connections across the planet Earth and you will see where the capital is flowing and the societal impact is obvious.

"A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies."

So what? So what does all of this have to do with Operational Risk Management?

It has to do with the pervasive vulnerability that an organization perpetuates without the correct attitude about managing risks. Theft of trade secrets, corporate espionage, competitive intelligence and loss of intellectual capital as the head hunters feast on your key employees to name a few. Global enterprises with deep hierarchy in the organizational chart continue to wonder how their best people have left and who leaked the information on the next idea.

How would you ever put enough policies, tools, systems, training or behavior modification to stop the flow of new hyperlinks through your own corporate IntraNet or the public bulletin boards and social networking web sites? The fact is that you can't.

Here’s one example of how things work in a hyperlinked organization:

You’re a sales rep in the Southwest who has a customer with a product problem. You know that the Southwest tech-support person happens not to know anything about this problem. In fact, she’s a flat-out bozo. So, to do what’s right for your customer you go outside the prescribed channels and pull together the support person from the Northeast, a product manager you respect, and a senior engineer who’s been responsive in the past (no good deed goes unpunished!). Via e-mail or by building a mini-Web site on an intranet, you initiate a discussion, research numbers, check out competitive solutions, and quickly solve the customer’s problem -- all without ever notifying the "appropriate authorities" of what you’re doing because all they’ll do is try to force you back into the official channels.

Game. Set. Match. Managing Operational Risks in the 21st century requires a whole new perspective. A brand new definition of "Normal." And last night, the American public asked aspiring Presidential candidates questions via You Tube.

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