Some Question The Value Of State Worker Blogs

from the build-it-and-they-won't-come dept

I’m very interested in the use of blogs within business settings, partly because that’s (in some ways) the business Techdirt is in. However, for all the hype, most organizations experimenting with enterprise blogs are going about it the wrong way. They seem to think that all you need to do is give all your employees a blog, and watch the revolution begin. As state IT employees in Utah are discovering, it’s not quite so easy. If you just want to give people blogs to write about whatever they want, why not just point them towards any of the free (or cheap) blogging systems out there, and let them go wild? If you’re really talking about using a blog to increase worker productivity, better share knowledge, or better connect with partners/customers/co-workers, you need a bit more thinking involved. So many of the blog-boosters seem to believe that everyone wants to blog, and if given the opportunity to do so at work, they will blog useful work-related items. However, the example in Utah suggests the opposite (as does our own experience at Techdirt). Many people out there don’t like to write. Many workers out there don’t have time to input information. This is why knowledge management systems have a strong history of failing over and over again. It’s not easy to get people to input knowledge. People who think that the world is going to change just by giving their employees some blogs are probably going to be very disappointed. Without some guidance, process, or plan the whole thing has a good chance of backfiring completely – leading people to wonder why they’re letting their employees post images of themselves picking their noses. Blogs can be useful for personal uses and for work uses – but people need to understand their limitations as well. Here, we believe that there are a lot more readers out there than there are writers, and so our solution is to build internal corporate intelligence blogs for our customers. We fill it with the news and analysis, so they don’t have to worry about the “knowledge” part of knowledge management. That doesn’t mean I don’t see solutions that involve giving employees blogs, but clearly, expectations need to be managed. While the case discussed in the article seems to be a bit misleading (some of the blogs in question appear to be quite good), even they admit that not many are jumping on the blog bandwagon. Blogging for the sake of blogging may be great for personal uses, but when it comes time to bring the blogs into a company, a better set of goals and plans are needed.

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Comments on “Some Question The Value Of State Worker Blogs”

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Phil Windley (user link) says:

Jumping to Conclusions

I think maybe you’re jumping to conclusions about the Utah experience because you’re hoping for a good example of how not to do it so that you can sell some more consulting.

In fact, the blogging experiment was to be evolutionary. We never anticipated that most people would blog. We expected that most would participate through reading rather than writing. There were all sorts of plans for things as it unfolded, but it never happened. I left and blogging really lost its momentum at that point. There are less than a dozen blogs at this point and those people would probably be blogging whether they worked for Utah or not.

I conducted a panel at the Jupiter Media Weblog Business Strategy conference in Bostson earlier this month. Here are some links that are relevant:

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Jumping to Conclusions

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the added information. That’s good to know. It’s too bad that blogging has lost the momentum there since you left. As I mentioned in my post, it looks like some of the blogs there are very good. If anything, I’d blame the writer of the article (who, I see from your blog, you do).

My question, then, is why did these blogs need to be officially supported by the state of Utah? Why not just encourage the individual employees to blog on their own? Also, who owns their data should they switch jobs? Since you still have your blog, I’m assuming the answer is that it’s the individuals – which raises even more questions about who should have set up the blog.

Phil Windley (user link) says:

Re: Re: Jumping to Conclusions

I guess, I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re officially supported. I paid for the first year of licensing to foster their use and to experiment with them. If I were there and moving forward, I’d probably buy a copy of Manila or something and move the official blogs onto an official site where we could do more organizational work with them and let people keep there private blogs if they wanted.

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