Blogging Policy = Blabbing Policy
I have been asked by many current and prospective customers these days about best practices for internal and external blogging policy.
The story of a government contractor who got fired for a blog post she made on an internal classified network sets off another round of public discussion on the subject.
I learned about this story in HBS Professor Andrew McAfee's blog post titled How Not to do Enterprise 2.0. McAfee says "I just want to point this out as a neat example of how not to promote Enterprise 2.0, and how to inhibit all of the positive things that can come from the use of freeform social software within organizations."
Another post at Enterprise 2.0 offers background on this story and suggests a few lessons for businesses. One of the lessons says "In other words, you need to have a set of formal blogging guidelines in place that tell employees exactly what is permissible and what is not."
I almost agree. I would replace "blogging" with "blabbing" and say "you need to have a set of formal blabbing guidelines in place that tell employees exactly what is permissible and what is not."
For example, on Wednesday at an IQPC conference, a DaimlerChrysler panelist talked about an inappropriate comment including proprietary information made on a public blog post about the Dodge Viper.
The wider point is this: Companies should not have internal or external blogging policies. † It's a huge mistake to make. Confining a communication policy to one form of communication simply raises 100 more questions about other technology specific communication policies.
Companies should include blabbing within their communication policy. Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Blogs, Social Networks, Wikis, RSS and related technologies are new channels for communication but should not change the fact that there are and always have been public and private channels including web sites, discussion boards, e-mail, telephones, loudspeakers, newsletters, posters, and paper flyers. Blabbing policies should provide guidance as to what sorts of information and opinion may be communicated in what context, be it a confidential discussion with a partner under NDA or a personal blog on the internet.
One of my customers is mid-western Fortune 50 company with, in many ways, the most progressive and effective blabbing policy I have ever seen. They call it Careful Communication. When this customer deployed Traction, they simply reviewed the Careful Communication policy and interpreted its meaning in this new context of competitive intelligence blogging inside the enterprise.
Per McAffee's post, freeform communication is supportive of many positive things. It encourages creativity, idea exchange, and knowledge management. I think well formed communication policies encourage rather than discourage this sort of communication by making the ground rules clear and paving the way for each employee to make their own informed decisions about how best and to what extent they may communicate potentially proprietary information or potentially misleading or damaging opinions.
† Watch for an upcoming post on "To Blog or Not to Blog" which will take on an entirely different aspect of blogging policy.