I find it entertaining when people state ‘Walmart wants…’, ‘Ford thinks…’, or ‘BT needs…’. It’s quite painfully obvious that corporations don’t have feelings or thoughts. What is true is that people within them do. I’ve thought for some time that one of greatest contributors to a corporation’s success is when the thoughts of its people are aligned. Unaligned thoughts are unlikely to be useful. Aligned thoughts can happen by accident (less likely) or because of good quality leadership (more likely), but in either case it’s important to recognise that they are still individual thoughts.
One of the reasons I like working for IBM is that it’s happy to allow me and my IBM colleagues to blog externally. Of course there are guidelines - obviously I can’t give away confidential information. It’s still a brave act for a company like IBM, however, and many others of equivalent size are rightly nervous about allowing the same - what happens if the PR and marketing folks lose control over companies’ images? This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your opinion of PR and marketing as disciplines, but it’s clear that there’s a risk of exposing non-alignment - people have different opinions, after all, right? Sure, yes, there’s that risk. However, although I hope our customers can see that IBMers are working together to produce good quality products and services for them, at least we have the reassurance that we’re being judged on our merits.
I’d encourage any other IBMers who aren’t already doing so to blog externally. You can find more information internally in the usual place (how’s that for keeping a secret, huh?).