Blog as a business management tool

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An interesting article published in a blog from the Business School of Harvard University on how a corporate blog does not have to be only a tool for marketing, but can also bring advantages to the management system in a company. We have translated the post considering it of maximum interest as one more example of the application of web 2.0 - in this case in its most rudimentary form as it is a simple blog - to business management.

Most of the guides on “how” to write a business blog focus on marketing and public relations goals: position our company as a thought leader or use it as a channel to spread the news of the organization. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a blog of this type (see blog), but also a private one that is used for management, rather than marketing.

The management blog spans a wide territory, from the intellectual to the mundane. Basically, it is a space where you can have a continuous conversation about the things that all users share - in this case, RISD - and that do not necessarily have to arise during a normal work day. Anyone with a RISD ID (students, teachers, and other staff) can join the discussion; Users can comment on posted messages and announcements, request a topic to be started, and even make anonymous comments one day a week (on Tuesdays). Comments are not moderated before publication, although all of them are regulated by the following rules:

  • Mother's rule: please refrain from posting profanity and other behavior that could upset your mother (or father or guardian)
  • Las Vegas rule: what happens in two.risd stays in two.risd
  • Acclimatization rule: start reading the posts / comments from the beginning of the blog to catch up before posting something
  • Rule of legality: everything published in two.risd must be within the law.

After more than a year with this experiment, some of its lessons are starting to become apparent:

1 The Medium Matters: Compared to many companies, where it is not uncommon to use email to ask any informal questions about the partner next door, RISD has a strong non-digital culture. Today, caution still prevails over the idea of ​​sharing honest opinions in a digital forum. This means that when designing any internal communication vehicle, culture must be taken into account; the latest is not always the best, especially when trying to get people to open up. In this sense, the RISD blog is like any other social medium: it has few participants compared to the high number of viewers who follow the dialogue.

2 Be ready for a cold jug of water: For organizational leaders, the blog provides instant feedback on management decisions and direction. Some of the whispers from private conversations come out where everyone can see them. Since feedback is instantaneous and visible, leaders have in mind the possible reaction of the community to their decisions. "What will happen on the blog?" "What will the reaction be?"

3 When this new communication channel was launched, what caused the leaders the greatest anxiety was the fact that it was not moderated, that is, the fact that any member of the community could publish whatever they wanted without going through any filter. But after more than a year, you can count on the fingers of your hands the number of inappropriate comments that violated the publication rules and had to be withdrawn. Controversial, scathing, and stubborn? Sometimes. But actually breaking the rules ... rarely. It seems that, time and again, we verify with new communication channels that human behavior is constant. People who misbehave are the exception rather than the norm, regardless of the setting.

4 New dimensions emerge to work relationships: the blog has added dimensions to relationships between colleagues, revealing opinions that otherwise would not have had a chance to come to light. Sometimes people are much more talkative on the blog than they are "in everyday life."

5 This has also happened at the institutional level. For managers, the questions that arise on the blog are illuminating where there is clarity and where it is lacking. Typically, the blog or serves to clarify complex management decisions, but it does act as a catalyst for further explanation later off the Internet, either through conversation or some other more formal means such as a campus meeting. Conversely, the contents of a campus meeting are often posted on the blog for discussion. The online world and the real world complement each other to give voice to a diverse community and make it understood.

6 Communication hierarchies are smoothed: unlike the traditional chain of management, the blog offers free and fair access to everyone in the organization. Since those who blog the most may not be the ones with the highest authority, the perspective of the global conversation looks different from the communication that takes place through traditional channels. It is more multifaceted, bringing the highly diverse experiences of students, teachers, and other staff directly into the conversation and exposing their different positions of advantage. However, a distinction must be made between communication hierarchies (which disappear) and true decision-making powers (which remain intact). For the blog to work, it is important to make it clear that your intention is to provide information, not make decisions.

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