Management by conversation

Management by conversation: A lot has been written during the “blog era” (I don’t know exactly when that is — sometime after 2000 through today?) about “citizen’s journalism,” the emphasis being on real people “reporting” on what they see, experience and think about events, big and small. Related, but perhaps not as analyzed, is what I guess could be called citizen’s management — or, perhaps, “management by conversation.” Perhaps, one could apply the term — or at least the trend — to any business or project or activity where the person in charge uses their blog to invite collaboration on its planning and management. It’s a process well known in some corners of the tech-world, for example, to those who collaborate on putting on barcamps or a Dave Winer style “unconference.” Smart product developers like Nick Bradbury have long-used their weblogs to bounce product ideas back-and-forth with customers.

But it’s especially interesting to see non-technology company executives begin to use their blogs for instant feedback regarding an idea or situation. And not just for faux “marketing research” hooey, but for actual dialog and legitimate requests for ideas, guidance and suggestions.

For example (okay — it’s not earth-shattering, but it’s an example) the other day Mike Sechrist, the GM of Nashville’s ABC affiliate, was trying to figure out what to do about scheduling a pre-season Titans game after receiving notification that the Greenbay Packers have decided to move up to 3 p.m. the start-time of a Friday football game, so as not to conflict with local high school football. (Frankly, that sounds like a southern town decision, so I’m pleased to learn folks in Wisconsin also have their priorities in order.) Sechrist and the station’s other managers had decided to tape the game and run it at its original start time of 7 p.m. But before making an announcement (and, I suppose, sending out his advertising sales staff to market the game), he used his blog to ask for ideas. And lots of ideas poured in, including one from friend-of-rexblog Roger Abramson, who made the common-sense suggestion: “Why not just show it live and then repeat it immediately after? Show it twice. Would you be allowed to do that?” Mike & Co. had the wisdom to not only give thumbs up to the idea, but to make a follow-up post thanking Roger and others for their suggestions.

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