Conversation managers, or conversation architects?

Slide 39 of David Armano’s Conversation Architecture presentation

David Armano has been building out an argument for the role of a "community architect" at his Logic + Emotion blog. BusinessWeek has given him a chance to speak to a more general audience this week, and many of Armano's clear and informative graphics accompany the piece.

The image above is taken from a presentation, Emerging Media's Impact on the Customer Experience, that Armano prepared for a MarketingProfs webinar last week.

Bob Glaza posted some observations after participating in the webinar:

"The obvious - and foremost - thing for us to remember is we serve people. Whatever our vocation, calling, job, gig - call it what you will - if we are not putting people first - it won't work. We might call them customer, consumers, readers...but cut to the chase...and its people. And people want good experiences. Part of a good experience is good design. In order to help create good experiences, we need to be good designers. Design is not about making something look good - thought that is part of it - but its more about creating an experience that is pleasurable. "

While Glaza was referring to marketers and more consumer-oriented marketers, his comments apply equally well to the role of government communicators.

As well, Armano's emphasis on conversation architects, instead of conversation managers, points to a weakness of many of the plans developed by government communicators: a belief that we can manage a conversation at all. Or even manage the environment around messaging and interaction with our stakeholders.

As I'm finishing this post, I've realized that Armano's The End of Thought of Leadership, posted today, provides a perfect capstone to this observation:

"In the conversation economy, dialogue rules. Monologue, and rehearsed presentations play second fiddle. An academic or corporate pedigree is nice—but really doesn't matter. If you have something valuable to say and you are willing to listen, share and participate—then you have the opportunity to "submit" your ideas and be heard.

These are the new rules of the conversation age, or economy or whatever you want to call it. This is why, if you have adverse reactions when you hear strange words like "blogging" or "twittering"—then you are a fool. I'm sorry but it's true. I'm not saying that we should all jump on the bandwagon of the latest buzzword or technology that gets thrown out there. I'm actually saying the opposite. We need to investigate the latest tools to the best of our abilities and decide how they impact our own worlds. The blogging movement was never about blogging in the first place—it's about a new way to share, connect, collaborate, discuss, debate, and ideate." (Logic + Emotion)

Our challenge is to learn how to play within both this traditional model and as participants in a newer, looser, more reactive online environment. We're no longer the refs in the conversation game: we're not even linesmen. We either learn how to dribble, pass, lateral or shoot - or we go home.

[tags] conversation architect [/tags]

(Crossposted to SoSaidThe.Org)