The title of this chapter refers to “eTeams” and “eCultures” and the “e” in this context is not superfluous pseudo-branding on my part. The “e” represents the power of the Internet as a medium to transform business, as we know it. It is not eCommerce (i.e. the ability to do transactions) of whatever flavor (e.g. B2B, B2C, B2G, etc.) that will drive the transformation.
No, what will drive transformation is the way in which the medium will improve conversations that take place between human beings. Improved human dialog is the change agent. Everything else is a distant secondary consideration. eTeams and eCultures are organizational abstractions that understand the marketplace as an asynchronous and multi-threaded series of conversations, and include conversational mechanisms in their products and services.
A few thousand years ago there was a marketplace. Never mind where. Traders returned from far seas with spices, silks, and precious, magical stones. Caravans arrived across burning deserts bringing dates and figs, snakes, parrots, monkeys, strange music, stranger tales. The marketplace was the heart of the city, the kernel, the hub, the omphalos. Like past and future, it stood at the crossroads. People woke early and went there for coffee and vegetables, eggs and wine, for pots and carpets, rings and necklaces, for toys and sweets, for love, for rope, for soap, for wagons and carts, for bleating goats and evil-tempered camels. They went there to look and listen and to marvel, to buy and be amused. But mostly they went to meet each other. And to talk.
Yes, markets are conversations. The Cluetrain Manifesto has propelled this meme on the world’s stage with astounding velocity. However, very few people actually grok the implications, and fewer still are leveraging the idea as a way of doing business. Enormous opportunities await any organization that finds its voice, and through it learns to have an ongoing conversation with its customers, employees, and other stakeholders.