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« Beyond Cluetrain Conversation: The WE Story | Main | Creatively Destructing Our Work »

Sep 01, 2004


Eric Rice

I'm an evangelist, which is a term easily understood. As far as I can remember, the "we" approach is one that works for various forms of persuasion and marketing and leadership. It implies some sort of vested interest by both parties.

Conversationalist? I laughed out loud at that one. Maybe because it just sounds so corny. "Hi, I'm a Conversationalist!"

W.T.F. does that mean? And answer that question without thinking about it and somehow you, I mean WE, start giggling. Seriously.

Good intentions, but um, productive nomenclature? I'm not convinced.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Eric, I've been an evangelist too...well, I still am in a lot of ways, so this post is about my own transformation in thinking. I don't have a beef with evangelists as individuals per se, just trying to EXPAND the definition to be much more than how it's practiced today.

I wasn't talking about DOING persuasion as much as BEING persuaded. I sense a little defensiveness in your response and that also happens a lot - not just evangelism. If I'm a customer it's much harder to communicate to an evangelist who is defending their product, company, industry, technology, worthy cause or any position rather than 100% absorbing my feedback and really letting it sink in. If I'm taking the time to talk even if it is negative, I do care (I'd won't bother at all if I don't).

I didn't give much thought to nomenclature so perhaps "conversationalist" isn't the most apropos. But it's not the main point - I was trying to capture the in-between space of relationships. I'm sure folks laughed at Evangelist at one time as well...conjures up Jerry Falwell or some other frightening image ;-)

Three main points:
1. "WE" is a "third" emergent, real-time entity - the full context is in chapter "Telling the WE Story" in the book, The Art of Possibility. I'm not sure the entire richness of that idea is expressed well in this post or the excerpt I link to - but it's well worth reading at the bookstore cafe. Just a breath-taking chapter. It's certainly not how most evangelism is conducted. It's not how most relationships are conducted.

2. Corporate evangelists aren't quite as dogmatic as the definition for 'evangelist' suggests but you've got to wonder about the intentions behind that nomenclature. Defn: Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work.

You are among the evangelists on the cutting-edge as many bloggers are. I write this blog for a very wide audience - yes, even some of whom are entirely unaware of or highly suspicious of Cluetrain Manifesto. (Remember I said I was an evangelist too ;-)) The majority of marketers and evangelists (um, even in the blogosphere) do NOT allow themselves to be influenced and shaped anywhere near as much as they are attempting to influence and shape. And continuous improvement on this front is never ever a bad thing.

3. I see missed opportunities for true communication all the time. Both Clay and Seth live in NY state and probably could easily get together for a coffee some morning; I bet they probably have a lot to learn from each other. But I/You mindset (Seth ignored Clay's comments publicly) doesn't make it as likely - not impossible but questionable. I have to wonder how much this happens in all kinds of contexts. Communication is harder than it appears. I'm no expert but I'm sharing what I learn as I go.

hugh macleod

Communication is indeed harder than it appears. Say we worked for the same compnay, and our employer gave us this amazing IM/Blogging/Communication tool.

So... we could communicated awfully well, in theory.

But only if we liked each other. If I hate your guts, if I want to take you out, doesn;'t matter how good the tools are. Communication isn't going to happen.

So then cultural issues come to the fore. Where you worry less about the people's tools, and worry more about how much your people like each other.

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