Social & Cooperation

Humanising the enterprise – by blogging

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in March 2007 ……

Today I gave a one-day seminar on blogs and enterprises. I dealt with internal blogs, how to integrate them into the intranet, what purposes they serve, etc. I presented the IBM blogging guidelines, as I have done in other presentations and seminars.

Once again, there was a significant pause in the room when I finished going through the 11 points, translating them into French. Then someone said, “This really humanizes the enterprise.” She was right. The guidelines are simple, strong, obvious once you’ve read them, and obviously written by bloggers. 

IBM has done a lot of good in helping enterprises realize how they can facilitate blogging in a professional context while totally avoiding the “traps” that many managers fear: people will say anything, we can’t control them, and so on.

I presented the IBM guidelines over a year ago in an Intranet workshop in London – in English this time – with several very large international companies present. None of them had blogs at that time. When I finished, there was that significant silence again. Then one of the participants said “Now I understand how I can do it.”

I recommend that you read the guidelines if you are not familiar with them, and see what you think.

The guidelines can be read on James Snell’s blog (Blogging @ IBM). (Note 28/12/ 2011: this post from Snell is dated May 2005.) I’ve copied the Executive summary below, but please take the time to read the detailed explanations.

The 11 points are: (I quote)

1. Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines.

2. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. IBMers are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time — protect your privacy.

3. Identify yourself — name and, when relevant, role at IBM — when you blog about IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.

4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

6. Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information.

7. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.

8. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc., and show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory — such as politics and religion.

9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.

10. Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Note point 9, which I have not seen in other guidelines. It’s a clear indication that bloggers themselves wrote these guidelines.

Do any of you have guidelines you’d be able to share with us?