Blogs are not new anymore. They have been around for a few years, and have proliferated fairly deep into the technology culture. If people are not writing one of their own, they are reading one, or a handful of them, or have an RSS aggregator where they are reading dozens or hundreds of blogs.
Blogs have lots of uses. They are great for viral advertising, news publication, syndication, and collection of public opinion about a topic. You can have a personal blog to share photos of your vacations, a corporate blog for press releases, a news blog for niche news, and a host of other reasons to have a blog. Blogs are an easy way for anyone to produce and consume any information about anything from anywhere.
But blogs have taken off within corporations as well. That is my interest here. We have deployed a blogging pilot in the workplace, and I have become a big proponent. At first it was part of my yearly objectives to help pilot and proliferate the use of blogs. I have blocked time on my calendar twice a week for a half hour to post to my blog. Now I am one of the most frequent bloggers in our pilot, and I blog both inside and outside the company. I do this because I see such a value in the process. Blogging is such an important tool in my manager arsenal, and I thought I would list the benefits of blogging from my experiences for the team and for the company.
Blogging inherently is a way to share information with its readers. The writer composes the message, and it is consumed by many readers in the blogosphere. These messages are (obviously) either bottom-up or top-down. Bottom-up messages are written from the perspective of the line workers and low to mid level managers to express ideas or experiences they have had. Top-down blogs are a way to deliver executive messages, such as strategic direction, corporate status, and announcements. Blogs act as a written memory of events, lessons learned, experiences, successes, or announcements. Blogs can also be a way to share expertise on a specific topic, such as data management, service oriented architecture, design patterns, or search engine optimization.
The writer has to take the time to think about the message they want to deliver, collect their thoughts, organize them, and express them clearly. That way the readers can read a focused message that delivers a clear and understandable message. Blogs can also be a way to develop, solidify, and evolve an idea by posing a question, idea, or concept, and collect and narrow an idea through constructive comments.
Using a blog to document a project and its progress is a bit unorthodox. Typically a wiki or another more collaborative environment is more appropriate. But blogs are so easy to use, they make for a good medium to capture progress and communicate them easily. Again, they act as a written memory of the project’s progress, successes, and lessons learned.
Cross Team Communication
Blogs are a great way to provide a medium for dynamic networks of conversations across teams. These teams could be local or distributed, days, nights or weekends, and it will not matter. A shared blog space will allow for ideas to be spread, information to be distributed, questions to be asked and answers to be shared. Blogs crisscross people, departments, silos, grade levels, and experiences.
The simplest thing that blogs do is to bridge the boundaries of distance and culture by being always on, able to be shared and viewed at any time. When launching a blog or posting a comment, a person takes themselves in written form and puts a bit of themselves out for everyone to look at, examine, scrutinize, comment on, and critique. Successful corporate blogging creates an atmosphere of trust, so that people are not threatened, intimidated, or frightened to expose themselves. Successfully sharing and collaborating this way fosters a spirit of participation that encourages people to continue to contribute their thoughts and ideas. This leads to team learning and growth across the team, from within the team, and makes them stronger together.
So what is your perspective on blogging within corporations, or blogging in general? Is there value? Is it a waste of time? Leave me feedback and let me know your thoughts.