Conversations are never assembly line

Joseph Jaffe is one person who does a great job of building collaborative projects. After his successful book Life after the 30 Sec Spot, he has started to write a  new book – Join the conversation and has invited people to contribute. I have tried to contribute my thoughts in Chapter 10 – Why are you so afraid of conversation? Here’s my take:

It is a good idea to trace this to the history and growth of organizations in the industrial age. This was the age where efficiency was the focus. Organizations were built around driving productivity. People were trained to do things over and over again – faster and quicker. For over a century, people worked in an era of mass production. Hence, they forgot the ability to develop conversations. They worked in large organizations that told them what to do rather than get them to explore what to do.

We therefore moved from

  • an era of ‘inventory of goods’ to an era of ‘inventory of ideas’.
  • an era of ‘scarcity’ to an era of ‘ insatiable choices’
  • an era of ‘ information poverty’ to an era of ‘information overload’

Imagine the kind of shift they would have to make for this new eco-system. They had to express, share and collaborate to get prepared for such an environment. This is a new work culture altogether for them. Also, one-size-fits-all product strategy became irrelevant.

Conversation at the end of the day is two-way. Conversations require

  • A capability to accept reality as it were because that’s how consumers talk amongst themselves
  • Ability to listen and respond in an unbiased manner
  • Skills to experiment,learn and develop
  • Ability to change the course of one’s action swiftly, even if the decision was wrong

Hence, they were not ready for a conversation era. An environment where one has to express, empathize, engage, enable and empower. The mindset a marketer must have is not to ‘inform at any cost’ but ‘spread at no cost’. This is a new marketing paradigm that demands new thinking, new rules and new ideas.

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