APQC's knowledge management blogger, Jim Lee, doesn't think so. Blog? I don't need no stinkin' blog!
Help! I've fallen and I can't get up! Actually, I've decided to jump--off the fence that is. I am now clearly on the side of the fence that thinks that blogs and wikis are not ready for business prime time. After many months of mental gymnastics about these two applications, I just don't think they're worth the effort put into them--or at least the hype that surrounds them. I've come to this conclusion based on both our current consortium study on knowledge retention and transfer, as well as some recent personal experience.
Lee focuses on his concern that blogs are not useful for knowledge sharing and knowledge management. His basic definition of a blog is that of a personal journal that is uninteresting to everyone. Clearly, this image of a blog isn't going to fit in any model that an enterprise might want to follow. But as many of the bloggers out there can see, there are many variations on blog-writing style. Even the knowledge shared in Mr. Lee's writing might lead others to respond: in agreement, in contradiction, with additional data. I see this as a beautiful example of knowledge and opinion sharing. Why not create an environment where this kind of discussion can happen in your company?
He also looks at blogs from the perspective of "what's in it for me" (WIIFM) for the blogger, the reader and, by extension, the company. The writer gets a place to jot down their thoughts. But then, if the blog isn't part of the job description, it is merely a waste of time. The reader gets to peak into the author's "diary," but there is only a small chance she will pick up on the author's tacit knowledge. How could a company think there is any point in using blogs?
Let's think about it a different way. People want to blog in enterprises. People are blogging in enterprises. Why? I don't think people are interested in the minutiae of their colleagues' lives. They don't have the time or inclination to read that kind of material. But what is interesting? People read and respond to topics that are relevant to their interests -- their work, their passions. Let's say someone is blogging about a particularly interesting client conversation. Someone else could see it and recount their own, similar experience with a resolution - either on their own blog or in email back to the first person. Or, they might recount the story over lunch and find connections to several other related stories. These then make it back as references to relevant materials in the corporate repository, references to people who have had similar experiences.
Knowledge does not reside in a post or on a blog. It flows between them and the people who read and write and talk about them. Blogs are about the give and take. Some of it is explicit in the way of facts and figures about what is happening. Some of it is tacit and only understood by understanding the authors context and style and personality.
Mr. Lee and APQC are doing a KM benchmarking study on knowledge retention and transfer, and he hints that his comments on blogging (and other concepts) are influenced by this research. I'll be curious to see what that says.
One commenter on this article argues along my lines. And Chris Fletcher argues the same in his post.