Using Weblogs to Manage IT Organizations


I've been asked to moderate a panel on using weblogs in IT organizations at the upcoming Weblog Business Strategies conference in Boston (June 9-10). I've been mulling this topic over and trying to come up with questions and discussion topics for the panel members. Here's what I'm thinking so far.

I'd like each panelist to spend no more than five minutes introducing themselves and their organization. No slides necessary (or even wanted). This introduction should contain information about their experience blogging and why they blog. Here are a few questions to think about in preparation:

  • When I took up blogging, I was looking for a way to connect with the people in the State of Utah IT organization which is large and scattered. What do you hope to accomplish within your organization with your blog? What positive and negative experiences have you had?
  • Are you encouraging members of your organization to blog? How? How many bloggers are there in your organization?
  • One of the chief uses of blogs in an IT organization is narrating your work. How valuable is it for you to narrate your work. How valuable is it for you to read what others are writing?
  • One of the people who started blogging in Utah was a technical support technician in Richfield UT, about 100 mile from SLC. I read what he had to say frequently and became aware of part of the IT organization in Utah of which I'd previously had no visibility. How interested are you in reading what the "leaf nodes" in your organization say? Why?
  • I know of one fellow in Utah who made a number of his coworkers angry at him when he wrote in his blog about a mistake he and others had made. In this and other ways, blogs can be threatening to large, risk-averse organizations. How do you cope with the "risk averse" nature of most large organizations?
  • I know of one IT organization that uses a blog format for network outage notification (along with the accompanying RSS feed). What uses do you see for the blog format beyond an individual journal?
  • Blogs are loosely coupled conversations. Can you point to examples in your organization where blogs have helped drive consensus on a controversial issue or where the conversation has led to a desired outcome?
  • One of the things I've noticed is that blogging requires an abundance mentality. I've also noted that blogs encourage a culture of candor. How do you develop a culture that supports sharing? Are the cultural properties that support blogging the same ones that support building a first rate IT organization?
  • An article in Information Week said "The last thing you want are uncontrolled and ever-expanding records of individual activities." Are you afraid of this record of individual activities? Is your General Counsel or HR department?
  • Some organizations have published weblog guidelines. Do you have any? If not, why not? If so, what are they?
  • How can weblogs be used to enhance corporate memory? Do you view blogs as a source of information about the past or a record of important decisions? What's missing in current tools? Are you doing anything to categorize or inventory blog content inside your organization?
  • There are clearly a lot of people in the "I don't get it" camp with respect to blogs. How do you answer them? Is one of them your boss?
  • Do you keep work blogs behind a firewall? Is there anything to be gained when employees know that their thoughts are for the consumption of their coworkers and not the world at large? What is lost?

That's all I can think of right now. If you have other topics that you think are germane and would like to see discussed, let me know. I'll put them on my list.