Weblogs in organizations and finding voice

An interesting little piece in Business 2.0 about corporate use of weblogs

Business 2.0 – Web Article – Management by Blog?

Most of the companies I've observed using blogs are trying it on their customers before unleashing it internally on their staffs. The external need, apparently, is more pressing. Many businesses already have other systems in place for managing internal information, ranging from simple brown-bag lunches to overkill knowledge-management regimens.

I disagree that the external need is more pressing. I suspect that the truth is that the external weblog strategy presents less risk in the eyes of the implementer. Or to put it differently, internal weblog experiments feel risky.

Even if they're about knowledge management and not cats, good weblogs are personal.  They are an outlet for personal voice. Organizations aren't sure how to deal with personal voice and most of us have learned a healthy caution about expressing it inside our organizations.  I've come to believe that organizations that wish to survive will have to learn how to let organizational voice emerge from blending the unique voices of its members. A necessary step in getting to that harmony will be to help individuals find their own voices first.

Weblogs provide a tool to find, exercise, and develop your voice in a potentially manageable way. You can start by adding grace notes to what others are saying and gradually build to more extensive contributions. The chronological structure of short posts encourages and gently forces continuing practice. And plugging into a piece of the weblogging community gives you a support group who provide examples of their own voice, material to try harmonizing with, and encouragement and support to newcomers.

Helping weblogs to succeed inside organizations has little to do with technology features.  It depends instead on nurturing a grassroots process of tentative practice evolving into confident process. Think Harold Hill in The Music Man not General George Patton in Patton