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July 07, 2008


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Doug Cornelius

Mike -

Mandatory, enterprise-wide blogging is a and idea. That is just another system where information will go to die.

As you point out, team blogs used to manage a project are a good idea and can be mandatory. In that case the blog post is replacement for the email or memo. That is changing the workflow, not adding another requirement.

Thanks for reading.

John Howard

Mike, we had enthusiastic adoption of weblogs inside the BBC by engineers, they were used as an electronic version of shift maintenance logs by broadcast engineering teams. It may not have been seen as 'KM' (I'd argue it was) but over time you could begin to see patterns that paper based alternatives made it less easy to spot. It's what you call them and how you pitch it that's important - 'blog' has many connotations, 'maintenance log' fits into their world view.

Mike Gotta

Doug, agree - enterprise-wide mandated blogging is a bad idea.

But there are valid scenarios related to structured processes and certain project activities where mandating people to blog can make a lot of sense. Both extremes positions ("must be" totally mandated or "must be" totally voluntary) miss out on some interesting opportunities found in the middle of those extreme points of view.

Mike Gotta

Great example John, thanks. And that's my point - transitioning people to participate and contribute on shift logs is a great example. Shift logs must be created - if someone does not complete their log, that could be a career-limiting action. Making the requirement that shift logs will be done via blogs makes it less about the blog and more about how the work is done. It might be KM (I would not disagree) but the point is that the structural change in tooling around the job is mandated - in some cases, not all, it can work out well and ignite more viral adoption in a more free-form manner.

Keith Brooks

Mandatory blogging? What is this high school. You must write an essay by 9am tomorrow?
Understandably some roles require information being logged, but don't call that a blog, you demean blogs by it.
If a blog is an expression of one's thoughts or interests or ideas, a mandatory writing that one completed a lap of the security areas in an hour is not a blog.

Besides, do you really think these people in your company have anything to say? If they did, they would blog anyway(many do too I bet) and you don't need it to be mandatory.
Sounds like another tickbox on the buzzword bingo card is checked.

James Dellow

Surely, mandatory blogging is an oxymoron? I think it confuses the use of blogging software and related standards (e.g. ATOM) to publish content versus blogging as a tool for conversational collaboration.

Mike Gotta

James - a blog is a serialized list of entries displayed in reverse chronological order with additional capabilities (feeds, categories, comments, etc).

If you examine the broad set of applications for blogging - you begin to see patterns and categories emerge. Some of those patterns are very well-known (personal journals, collaborative conversation, etc.) but there are other patterns possible that are not as mainstream but interesting to track. These scenarios leverage blogs in settings that are more structured, and often have more of a workflow or process-centric style.

Within these more structured situations where role, process requirements or other duties related to an activity drive blog usage, then organizations are quite likely to have mandated use of the tool to satisfy that particular application need. This is similar to how organizations have mandated use of Lotus Notes or SharePoint to handle structured collabortion (e.g., handling an RFP response).

For these structured, workflow/task centric or activity-centric situations, I have no problem with an organizations saying "this is the way certain information will be captured and shared as part of a business activity" and it happens to be via a blog.

I am not saying that all blogging patterns should be mandated. I am not saying that you suddenly will begin to capture information that you never captured before (KM). I am saying that blogs can be used in mandated situations and still be defined as a blog.

Mike Gotta

Keith, I almost deleted your comment because I thought it was not very constructive and bordered on an insulting rant - but for now I'll leave it.

If you prefer to have a narrow definition of blogging then that's perfectly fine - your argument is valid for a particular use case scenario (expression of one's thoughts and ideas) - but there are others which you might want to consider.

For instance, Traction Software has focused extensively on more structured, purposeful solutions for blogging that are worth checking out. Not all blogs have to adopt a soapbox metaphor to be considered a blog or for those contributors to be thought of as "blogging".

Bertrand Duperrin

I've asked myself the question many times. I came to the conclusion that I was not asking the right question.
What made me learn more thing was to ask "do blogs support a more efficient way of working". is the answer is yes, blogging becomes a common activity not because it's mandatory, but since they supports the way people work blogs have to be used.
But blogs are not enough to support efficiently the way people work. More tools are needed like wikis, social networks etc...

As a conclusion I'd say we don't have to care about making bloggin mandatory or voluntary. We have to care of the "what for" question. Once the answer is found people will blog not because they're asked to but because this would be the way things are.

John Tropea

I don't think there is anything wrong in mandating blogs for information that is currently generated using email.

eg. Please use blogs for discussions, please use blogs for project status, please use blogs for news and announcements

As the comment stream above mentions, this is not about mandating people to share their know-how, this is about work
eg. it's like saying, can you now take the train to work instead of the bus...you still have to go to work, you are just using a different mode of transport.

Adoption idea : meetings are KM 2.0 behaviours

People take the path of least resistance, they don't like change even when they cleary see the benefits, they couldn't be bothered learning a new routine.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of discipline, sometimes people welcome a shove, because they are too lazy themselves.

The secret is that as Mike puts it, these "Direct" contributions may then lead to "Volunteered" (more tacit type) contributions.

I don't agree with Marys post about Tims post, when it comes to this type of personal blogging it needs to be viral.
This is the type of information you would normally talk about in physical conversations and the phone, it's the gold, but you can't mandate it. http://aboveandbeyondkm.blogspot.com/2008/07/knowledge-management-made-easier.html

Getting over the awkwardness of publishing a log of your know-how and for this to scale to all employees is going to take a long time. Plus not everyone is like us, not everyone is open or has a publishing bent...let's see how fast this changes with the netgen.

Tacit blogging will grow from the bottom-up, as long as you have several volunteered people doing it, and they generate conversations, and become known as subject matter experts. Then hopefully others will start doing it, and so on...it's not for everyone and that's OK.

When it comes to Task group type of CoPs, I think we will start to see people who become use to social working on tasks, and when they are on another task with new people they might influence them to use a CoP, as they themselves couldn't think of going back to email...so hopefully this organically spreads.

Dave Snowdens post is spot on...it's not about blogging, it's about the content you are asking people to blog. If that's know-how type of stuff, well then that has to happen naturally.

BTW - see datablogging for a type of structured blogging

supra shoes

Agree with your point of view

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