This post is part of a 95 post series discussing the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto as they relate to business in 2009. Read more about the series in the introduction post. And check out the rest of the series!

Thesis #15: In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

The homogeneity of voice predicted by the Cluetrain of 1999 has been realized. What’s worse, is that its artificiality has this creepeing effect that leaves no corner of communication untapped.

The Cluetrain has been cited as a precursor, possibly even a crystal ball, into the world of Social Media that we live in today. Of course it seems that way, hindsight being 20/20 and all. Realistically, though, I think what the Cluetrain did was recognize patterns in how humans communicate in real life, how humans communicate in business, and the differences between them. Social Media, whatever it can be defined as at the very moment that I’m writing this essay, is the convergence of those conversations. Human conversations and business conversations.

But we’re experiencing a culture clash.

Funny for some, uncomfortable to watch for others. Either way, a poor representation of reality.

The language we use to describe business activities is almost equally as absurd if you consider it in the context of the rest of your life. In the rest of your relationships.

I recently “overheard” a dialogue recently, a couple of Tweets shared between between Dave Troy and Tony Bacigalupo about “sustainability” as related to business.

Sustainability is a term that’s thrown around in business a whole lot, typically tied to business modeling. Even worse, it’s found it’s way into marketing, and we’ve started talking about building “sustainable relationships” with our business partners and customers.

Think about that for a second. It sounds positive at first, but put it into context.



The homogenized business voice is so unaware of itself and how contrived it sounds that it doesn’t even know that it’s in a hole, let alone how to dig itself out. Meanwhile, the human conversations are more real than ever before, with more people discovering their own voices and how powerful they can be when they are honest and authentic.

Here’s the problem. Discourse in business is taking place as if it’s still “us” versus “them”. Like this is a high school dance and the boys are afraid of touching the girls.

Cooties. Ew.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

There is no them.