Seth Godin + Cluetrain Mashup

The system we grew up with is a mess. It’s falling apart at the seams and a lot of people I care about are in pain because the things we thought would work, don’t. Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. They have become victims, pawns in a senseless system that uses them up and undervalues them. Scared.

It’s about a choice and it’s about our lives. This choice shouldn’t require us to quit our jobs, though it challenges us to rethink how we do our job.

It’s time to stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating something that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for us and start doing things that change people and organizations. Then, and only then, will we have achieved our potential.

For hundreds of years, we have been seduced, scammed and brainwashed into fitting in, following instructions and exchanging a day’s work for a day’s pay. That era has come to an end, and just in time.

We have brilliance in us, our contribution is valuable, and what we create is important. Only we can do it, and we must. I’m hoping we not only chose to stand up, but also choose to make a difference.

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

These organizations are conversations. Their people 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 organizations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and set of talking points. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder people have little respect for organizations unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

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

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

However, people are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Organizations need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so networked people can converse directly with networked organizations.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart people in and smart organizations 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 our organization has ever engaged in.