I recently read about the increasing trend for employees to create blogs cataloguing the problems, dysfunctions and difficulties within their own companies.... So why has this form of employee blogging developed? Is it just a consequence of the technology or is it something deeper?
I didn't find anything particularly new in the article, but my friend pointed out the complete slant toward "corporate blogs are dangerous" is an overblown stance. The article was published about a year ago, and it was in response to something Cooper had read from a blogger (Scoble, perhaps?)
The unfortunate fact is that the popular conception of blogs is that they are toys of teenagers or that they will get you fired because you will say something that the company doesn't want you to say.
Sure these kinds of blogs exist, but they aren't very interesting to me as someone interested in adding value to human interactions, adding value to businesses that want to use them.
Sure, no one likes to admit things are going wrong. On the other hand, things go wrong. It's part of life. There is Murphy's Law that reflects the deep-seated truth that things can go wrong at the worst possible time. Rather than burying our heads in the sand, why not create a culture in which it's okay to say, "I'm working on X project, and Y just isn't happening." along with "I'm working on Z and it is going better than expected, here's why." It's not just blogs that can help with this -- and blogs alone won't create the culture. Cooper talks about this at the end of the piece: it's the leadership that sets the tone:
Either you create a "blame culture" or a potentially constructive "learning organisation". If we had the right leaders in our businesses, we would not need the blog, we could own up to our failures and learn from them. As Henry Ford once said, "failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently".
In my view blogging is orthogonal to having the right leaders. Having the right leaders makes all sorts of things possible. Just imagine how much better a blogging environment; or a innovation environment; or a customer-centric environment would be with the right leadership. Great. But isn't it also possible to do these things without the perfect leadership? The scale might be different or the rules around doing it might be different. But it can still work. And, in the case of blogging, a lot of value can be had.
Blog internally on sensitive matters over which employees have expertise. Blog externally to build brand and to set up a two-way street of knowledge sharing with outside experts. Just don't assume that blogs are evil and walk away.