Thursday, May 19, 2005

Is blogging getting corporate?

Not sure how I feel about IBM having a set of guidelines for bloggers IBM and those participating in wikis. On the one hand it makes good corporate sense makes personal views and free speech just a little more corporately - controlled. I guess it's an inevitable step, but I hope it doesn't put IBMers off making useful, challenging and informed comment to the world about their working life.

I'm interested in seeing how other organisations follow suit - anyone got any other good examples out there?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Busy when I should be blogging

It's typical. when I'm working on communicatons, I'm generally too busy to blog - but of course that's the time I should be blogging, because that's the time when I'm at the heart of what's going on in organisational communications.

If I step back at the moment and look at the work I'm involved in, it's quite wide-ranging, but so little is now involved in conventional print media. In fact, precisely one project putting together entries for a grad scheme directory.

As for the rest, it's a mix of strategy building, internal comms training, e-zines and web writing (and e-zines linked to inter/intranets).

I'm having fewer conventional meetings too, with many more teleconferences and web chats. My working day, my working timeframe and my working links are all changing - and it's good to see that it's much the same for my peers.

I took part in a fun and useful webchat with CiB this week covering its merger with the ICA and plans to get closer to other organisations including IABC. I hope these plans come to fruition - as I could do with saving on the subscriptions.

Such chats are becoming commonplace now - good when we know the participants already, but I have my reservations when breaking new ground with new people. We don't want to become a race or profession of geeks - and I've yet to meet a webchat that enables me to see the whites of my fellow chatters' eyes.....

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Who's using the tools?

The blogs are out there - but how many organisations are making use of blogs, never mind podcasts and other new media to engage their internal audiences?

How many are lifting the quality of their intranets by introducing RSS feeds of what's new, what's news and what's just plain interesting to know?

How many wikis have escaped from the IT departments to provide a useful means for project collaboration - how many, if any, people are using such tools to create their own internal communications?

As ever, I suspect the technology is ahead of the market - at least from my UK perspective. Also, I supect the marcoms guys are going to grab these new tools rather faster and more readily than their organisational comms counterparts. But what an opportunity we have to use new technology to help engage with our colleagues.

We just need some brave souls to take the plunge, sort out the legalities and get up and running.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

How far to push

Recently I interviewed a selection of business people for a case study. The case study was around innovation, following the conception to delivery of a new product. The guys who were charged with making the product were very proud of what they'd done, managing volatile liquids; building plant from scratch; widening their knowledge into a related but unfamiliar area - well out of their usual scope of operation. The product had been delivered to spec and on time.

The marketing people were less pleased. The production costs were well above what had been forecast and the speed of delivery was some way short of expectations. For them, the product had made it to the market - but by the skin of its teeth.

So I went back to my client: "It's a great case study," I said. "But it's not that straight upward line to success. If we're to really share what you've learned from the experience, this will need to be warts and all. People have been very honest talking to me, and my text will reflect that."

"No problem." said the client. So I produced the case study, and circulated it for sign-off. The changes began to filter back. Suddenly the issues weren't so bad; the costs were massaged and the trenchant opinions were pared down. I argued the toss where black had turned white - and the compromise was shades of grey. But in the end the agreed text was pretty anodyne.

It may have satisfied those directly involved in the project, but was far less immediately useful for those who would have benefited from knowing the perils and pitfalls of bringing something completely new to world to the market.

So what did I do? I fed back my views honestly but in a tempered logical way. And then I took the money.

I'm looking forward to writing more case studies for this client. I hope I can inch them towards greater openness. But in the end, they will make the decision on how 'honest' they are prepared to be.

I can take the horses to water - but I can't make them walk on it.