The comments to my earlier post, What Have You Learned, indicate that it would be worth pushing the conversation further to see if there is a middle path between the completely mandatory approach (i.e., blog … OR ELSE!) and the completely voluntary approach (i.e., blog only if it makes you feel good). John Tropea suggests that the best approach is to increase participation through example rather than coercion:
I think the key is to get a few dedicated willing people to do personal blogs. Keep going at it till a success story happens. … It has to happen naturally and virally, people have to want to do it…I think a bottom-up approach is best.
He then goes on to cite a success story on Kevin Jones‘ blog, Engaged Learning, in which one employee’s blog post helps another locate invaluable assistance and save the enterprise time, effort and expense. Obviously, as these successes are documented, the enterprise will get more invested in promoting blogging. But what about those reluctant employees who don’t see themselves as bloggers? As John rightly observed: “…it’s not going to be for everyone, some people are just not inclined to blog.”
Meanwhile, Mark Gould points to some helpful examples at Jive Software where blogging was required in relatively nonthreatening ways and this led to some positive results for the individuals involved and the enterprise generally. In the case of the mandatory new hire blog, it helped build community within the enterprise and introduced blogging to folks who had never had the chance to try it before. (Never underestimate the power of the fear of the unknown technology. Sometimes, just knowing that you have no choice about pressing forward helps you tackle the task. It is only afterward that you realize how the value of the exercise outweighed the imagined worries.)
Karyn Romeis provided a link to an interesting summary of the pro-blogging and anti-blogging points of view. The article quotes David Gurteen, whose explanation regarding resistance to blogging is recounted as follows:
Gurteen says a lack of understanding attributes to the masses that are yet to be persuaded. “They’re not understanding it and not wanting to understand it. They’re the people that say, whose got time to read those?”
Gurteen presents three different scenarios: “Those that see it, get it, love it and adopt it. Those that never, ever get it and see blogs as vanity tools and the group in the middle that are sitting on the fence and aren’t sure.” The ratio, says Gurteen, between those groups is very different.
Perhaps mandated blogging would help the agnostic and indifferent get over the hump. As for the terminally resistant, I’m not yet ready to venture a solution for dealing with them.
Finally, Mick Leyden points to what may be the fundamental flaw in the entire discussion: namely, that we’ve smothered blogging with the label social media. Here’s what Mick had to say:
As I read your post I found myself wondering if are we doing ourselves a disservice to describe the blog as a ‘social media’ tool in this context? … So the question is, is a blog classified as social media simply because it is a blog or because of how the blog is used?
This is a question worthy of a separate post. Stay tuned.
In a related blog post, Mick coins the phrase “encouraged” blogging. I like this one. It seems to capture the middle path: blogging isn’t just for those who feel like it, but equally, failure to blog need not necessarily result in summary termination (or execution). Rather, you bring social pressure to bear within the organization so that most understand that blogging is expected, if not absolutely required. In the event individuals really truly can’t (or won’t) participate in this fashion, hopefully they can find other effective means of contributing to their organization’s knowledge base and sense of community.
Encouraged Blogging — this sounds like an approach that could yield dividends within an organization. And, it might be the elegant middle path needed between the purely voluntary blogging and the mandatory blogging points of view.