mm188: Blogging – NSFW!?! | 2 of 2

November 8, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Last post, we began to tackle the topic of work-related blogging. As constant reader will recall, the hook was the news that John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, was taken to task by his board of directors for the blogging he did anonymously this summer while the FTC was reviewing Whole Foods’ takeover of Wild Oats, a competitor. Computerworld reported that top officers of Whole Foods are no longer permitted to post to discussion boards, blog, etc.

MUDGE‘s take on this issue: as constant reader can tell, MUDGE is not my real name; nor is HCA [short for Heart of Corporate America] the true name of my employer. Pseudonymity of these two elements [another version of the previous creative coinage] seems preferable to not, from a career longevity point of view. Or perhaps MUDGE is simply paranoid.

So, what’s more to say? Well, Whole Foods stubbed its organic tofu over this issue, very publicly. Is this a unanimous trend among the stalwart global enterprises based (presently) in the U.S.?

There are few global enterprises more ginormous than International Business Machines, IBM.

And IBM employees blog. In fact, they are encouraged to blog. In fact they are so proud of the fact that employees are encouraged to blog that in one presentation on collaboration tools for which your intrepid reporter was present, the statistics: 375,000 employees world-wide; 53,000 blogs, internal and external; 27,000 of which were currently active (as of 90 days ago) were flourished with pride.

Personal aside: Always wanted to work for those guys. Never felt I had the horsepower or the credentials or (at the time) nearly enough white shirts. Sigh.

Envy aside, IBM’s collaboration software entity, Lotus, is now promoting a series of products bundled under the banner, Lotus Connections, containing a myriad of tools promising to enable employee empowerment, and this year’s “i”-word, innovation, through collaboration. And one of those enabling tools: Blogs.

Understand that this foray into “social software” is no small casual fancy. During the three-day seminar for Lotus premium customers in Boston this past August, I attended more than a few presentations promoting Connections.

And, even in non-related programs, many of the Lotus and parent IBM speakers referenced their own public blogs.

From the promotional website:

lotusconnections

Blogs help you connect with people – within and outside your enterprise.

They help you build communities of shared interest.

They give each person in the enterprise a voice.

Because blogging is as natural as writing an email to a group, one can share his thoughts and solicit feedback without worrying about filling up everyone’s inbox.

Blogs help you communicate with your peers or colleagues and nourish innovation.

Very empowering. For MUDGE‘s very buttoned down employer, very unlikely.

I’m absolutely certain that many of my fellow employees (there are tens of thousands world-wide) have blogs, perhaps under their own names or more likely, pseudonymously. No way to tell, really. MUDGE knows for certain of only one of his colleagues who knows of his own specific activities here. A matter of paranoia, and trust.

I have the strong feeling that, when offered sweetheart deals for adopting, or even piloting Lotus Connections, my masters at HCA will have (or, already have had) no trouble politely refusing.

As with many of their global peers, they’re all for innovation. Indeed, without innovation, my employer would eventually cease to exist.

But the John Mackey Whole Foods example speaks thunderously to the dangers of the untrammeled communication offered by social software. That kind of innovation my employer, among many others, might well eschew.

Would be refreshing though, wouldn’t it?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE