Persuading Bosses to Allow Blogs

Apparently, last month Microsoft fired “long-term temporary” employee Michael Hanscom for an entry Hanscom made to his personal weblog about some new Macintosh computers arriving at Microsoft, and that also mentioned some information about the layout of the Microsoft campus. Microsoft deemed the campus information to be some kind of security breach, and let Hanscom go. (Here’s Hanscom’s entry describing his firing.)

In response to this, the folks at Blogger have posted some pretty good advice on How Not to Get Fired Because of Your Blog.

My only quibble with Blogger’s advice is their suggestion to modify an anti-blog corporate culture by distributing The Cluetrain Manifesto. I know this book and site are very popular in some segments of the business world, but I honestly think Cluetrain is not the best choice to try to persuade fiercely anti-blog, total-control-over-all-communication types of managers and executives. It’s way too flip and rabid for their tastes.

I’ve got a better idea, I think….

In my opinion, a better move would be to first show the benefits of running a company weblog. This article by Jim Carroll, published in Marketing Magazine, is a good introduction to the topic. Also, show your anti-blog boss this June 2003 New York Times article, “The Corporate Blog Is Catching On.” (Free registration required.)

UPDATE NOV. 28: I just found a white paper about using RSS for corporate communications that would be another great introductory resource for blog-shy bosses. Read more…)

An Aug. 14, 2002 entry from the Loosely Coupled blog details the pros and cons of corporate blogging. You may want to read that but not show it immediately to your anti-blog boss, in order to better anticipate and address key issues and concerns about corporate blogging.

Once the bosses are intrigued by the idea of a corporate weblog, you might slip them this February post from the Scobleizer weblog, “The Corporate Weblog Manifesto.”

Then, after they’re positively tuned in to the weblog concept from a corporate standpoint, show the bosses that they don’t have to be afraid fo your personal weblog. Policies make bosses feel safe, so show them that there are intelligent ways to handle corporate policies about employees’ personal blogs. Software company Groove Networks has done a pretty good job of this, I think.

I think this approach stands a better chance of success than Cluetrain.

14 thoughts on Persuading Bosses to Allow Blogs

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  1. We are in the beginning stages of using blogs here at our organization. I’m the guy trying to push this into the mainstream. Most people are buying into the concept. Your article has given me some more ammunition. I appreciate it!

  2. We’re working to power our whole intranet through Movable Type and thus introduce the concept of blogging internally within an organization in that way.

    Once departments have their blog-based websites created and understand the concepts behind posting short pieces of relevant information on a regular basis, we will look to expand that on an individual basis. It’s all part of a ‘grand plan’ (of the web team) to move towards a knowledge network within our company.

  3. Convince Your Boss that Blogging is OK
    In the wake of Microsoft’s firing of a contract worker for including sensitive information in his personal blog, here are some thoughts on how to convince your boss that blogging is OK….

  4. None of the sacked-for-blogging stories I’ve heard involve what I regard as serious breaches of confidentiality. None of the bloggers has set out to reveal sensitive and damaging company information. Given that most bloggers attach their name and other information to their efforts, it’s a pretty good bet that the instinct for self-preservation is at work preventing more serious slips from occurring. But there are anonymous bloggers, and there are highly unsatisfactory working conditions, so I expect that there will be an explosive mix of the two sometime soon. Washingtonienne’s short-lived blog points in that general direction. So do bulletin boards like

    Given anonymity, corporate sleuths and HR people will be faced with a hostile blogger they can’t trace, but who might relent if working conditions improve. It will be interesting to see if the unilateral and quasi-feudal facade of corporate relations has to adapt because of a few wily bloggers. It might just be in the general corporate intest to come to a more amenable accommodation with employees. They certainly won’t find peace through agression alone, pace the RIAA and file-sharers.

    Maybe none of this will come to pass in this particular way, but I do think there will be some sort of escalation in the tensions over blogs. We haven’t reached the zenith/nadir yet.

  5. PS to the earlier comment: I should have added this example to the list:

    Part-way down the page is a section about Vodafone involving some pretty serious allegations about violations of customer confidentiality. The original blog has removed the posts – but that doesn’t mean mirrors don’t exist. Similarly, the blogger has several blogs, and/or colleagues who have proliferated the tactic.
    See, and perhaps others.