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Using internal blogging as a leader

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 11-22-10

How do I communicate with my organization?

This is a challenge for any leader particularly as their organization grows. Leaders try to communicate through their staff to the rest of the organization, but the message is often distorted or diluted. Leaders try to communicate through lots of one-on-one conversations, but that is very slow and time-consuming. Leaders try to communicate through business-unit updates and town hall meetings, but they are often very scripted and impersonal. They are all good measures, but how can one enhance their communication impact?

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Consider blogging.

I don’t mean blogging for the outside world, like I and many lean thinkers do. I mean private blogging, just for an audience inside the company. There are many tools available to do this in a controlled, and private way.

Why don’t more leaders do this? They are either afraid of making a mistake, or they don’t know what to write about.

First, it is hard to make too big of a mistake. It’s easy to make lots of little mistakes, but these are all forgivable and easily corrected. And most of them do not outweigh the mistake of under-communication.

Some advice of what to keep in mind as you start this practice:

  • Don’t use blogging instead of real engagement, conversation, and coaching. This is in addition to, not instead of.
  • Be prepared before opening this up to 2-way communication for the whole organization to see. You will have to be prepared to answer anything, and if you’re not ready, do not enable such methods yet.
  • Do not assume everyone is going to read this. They are not. But if you are genuine, enough people will read it that you will have a positive impact.
  • You don’t need to blog every day. Just enough to keep it in front of people. Weekly would be fantastic, but even monthly is more than some people would get to hear so that’s fine too.

Don’t know what to write about? Write about anything you are experiencing, thinking, or reflecting upon. Need some suggestions? Here’s a few starters or lead-ins for you to try out:

  • “Last week I was visiting a customer and here’s what I saw…”
  • “In working through this particular problem, this is what we learned…”
  • “Here’s what I heard in a meeting and this is why it concerned me…”

You don’t have to be a perfect leader. You know this. You certainly don’t have to expect yourself to be a perfect blogger. But it’s one more tool in your toolbelt to help communicate with your organization.

How have you tried blogging with your organization? What’s stopping you from trying?

Comments

  • I agree that this is an opportunity many leaders miss. At the AME conference last week, and through other channels, I saw how many people who have the years invested in becoming leaders feeling intimidated by blogging, tweeting, or even being in LinkedIn groups. Interestingly, I learned from Jim Garrick that Fedex is suggesting that leaders invest 20% of their time creating content — I hate that word, actually — but telling stories or writing articles for both inside and outside audiences.

    Just as leaders need coaching to become effective with lean thinking, they need coaches in order to get comfortable with blogging, and so on. For the mechanics of posting, they can find internal resources to help them. With some cultivation they can also find internal resources to help them write their thoughts, though they need to be careful not to sound like PR pieces.

    Getting the technology support structure in place may take some outside guidance, but with Yammer internally or Twitter externally, tools like Blogger or WordPress, connection platforms like LinkedIn, and collaborative options like SharePoint, there’s no longer a need to use dedicated resources to go through long development projects.

    Leaders can even create some drama and leverage their beginning to communicate with technology. My friend Ken Grant at Analtech created a gathering of social media folks and the press for an event where Governor Jack Markell of Delaware issued his first tweet. Gov Markell has continued to use twitter to communicate with citizens (with some help), and Ken has helped convert the state’s home page into a social media hub.

    So two points – one, to echo Jamie that employees, customers, and suppliers want to feel the personality of the leader and get a sense of his or her thinking. Two, asking for help in getting started and then keeping communication flowing reduces a seemingly big barrier to a surmountable obstacle.

    Karen Wilhelm November 22, 2010 at 10:33 am
  • I agree that this is an opportunity many leaders miss. At the AME conference last week, and through other channels, I saw how many people who have the years invested in becoming leaders feeling intimidated by blogging, tweeting, or even being in LinkedIn groups. Interestingly, I learned from Jim Garrick that Fedex is suggesting that leaders invest 20% of their time creating content — I hate that word, actually — but telling stories or writing articles for both inside and outside audiences.

    Just as leaders need coaching to become effective with lean thinking, they need coaches in order to get comfortable with blogging, and so on. For the mechanics of posting, they can find internal resources to help them. With some cultivation they can also find internal resources to help them write their thoughts, though they need to be careful not to sound like PR pieces.

    Getting the technology support structure in place may take some outside guidance, but with Yammer internally or Twitter externally, tools like Blogger or WordPress, connection platforms like LinkedIn, and collaborative options like SharePoint, there’s no longer a need to use dedicated resources to go through long development projects.

    Leaders can even create some drama and leverage their beginning to communicate with technology. My friend Ken Grant at Analtech created a gathering of social media folks and the press for an event where Governor Jack Markell of Delaware issued his first tweet. Gov Markell has continued to use twitter to communicate with citizens (with some help), and Ken has helped convert the state’s home page into a social media hub.

    So two points – one, to echo Jamie that employees, customers, and suppliers want to feel the personality of the leader and get a sense of his or her thinking. Two, asking for help in getting started and then keeping communication flowing reduces a seemingly big barrier to a surmountable obstacle.

    Karen Wilhelm November 22, 2010 at 10:33 am
  • I agree that this is an opportunity many leaders miss. At the AME conference last week, and through other channels, I saw how many people who have the years invested in becoming leaders feeling intimidated by blogging, tweeting, or even being in LinkedIn groups. Interestingly, I learned from Jim Garrick that Fedex is suggesting that leaders invest 20% of their time creating content — I hate that word, actually — but telling stories or writing articles for both inside and outside audiences.

    Just as leaders need coaching to become effective with lean thinking, they need coaches in order to get comfortable with blogging, and so on. For the mechanics of posting, they can find internal resources to help them. With some cultivation they can also find internal resources to help them write their thoughts, though they need to be careful not to sound like PR pieces.

    Getting the technology support structure in place may take some outside guidance, but with Yammer internally or Twitter externally, tools like Blogger or WordPress, connection platforms like LinkedIn, and collaborative options like SharePoint, there’s no longer a need to use dedicated resources to go through long development projects.

    Leaders can even create some drama and leverage their beginning to communicate with technology. My friend Ken Grant at Analtech created a gathering of social media folks and the press for an event where Governor Jack Markell of Delaware issued his first tweet. Gov Markell has continued to use twitter to communicate with citizens (with some help), and Ken has helped convert the state’s home page into a social media hub.

    So two points – one, to echo Jamie that employees, customers, and suppliers want to feel the personality of the leader and get a sense of his or her thinking. Two, asking for help in getting started and then keeping communication flowing reduces a seemingly big barrier to a surmountable obstacle.

    Karen Wilhelm November 22, 2010 at 10:33 am
  • Jamie,

    Great idea! This would save a lot of trees compared the old newsletters. You are right – the risk of making mistakes while communicating is out weighted by the mistake of not communicating. Leaders rarely communicate too much.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chris

    Chris Paulsen November 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm
  • Jamie,

    Great idea! This would save a lot of trees compared the old newsletters. You are right – the risk of making mistakes while communicating is out weighted by the mistake of not communicating. Leaders rarely communicate too much.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chris

    Chris Paulsen November 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm
  • Jamie,

    Great idea! This would save a lot of trees compared the old newsletters. You are right – the risk of making mistakes while communicating is out weighted by the mistake of not communicating. Leaders rarely communicate too much.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chris

    Chris Paulsen November 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm
  • Have been blogging internally for about 9 months now. While social-media is “unsettling” to organisational policy, I was encourage to share my learning and thoughts by a lean ‘thought-leader.’
    Not short of an opinion or two, I had plenty to say and enjoyed sharing my ‘journey’ with others, but translating that into text continues to challenge. As Jamie has mentioned previously it is a very good way to “sharpen my views.”
    While developing my style I have attempted to apply lean theory/principles to every day activities and how these have (or have not) created value, along with my own learning. Really appreciate the ‘starter prompts’ in the post above as recently have started looking further afield for material.
    Appreciate the thoughts shared here and will continue to reflect on these and share with others.
    Cheers
    ian

    Ian Sammons November 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm
  • Have been blogging internally for about 9 months now. While social-media is “unsettling” to organisational policy, I was encourage to share my learning and thoughts by a lean ‘thought-leader.’
    Not short of an opinion or two, I had plenty to say and enjoyed sharing my ‘journey’ with others, but translating that into text continues to challenge. As Jamie has mentioned previously it is a very good way to “sharpen my views.”
    While developing my style I have attempted to apply lean theory/principles to every day activities and how these have (or have not) created value, along with my own learning. Really appreciate the ‘starter prompts’ in the post above as recently have started looking further afield for material.
    Appreciate the thoughts shared here and will continue to reflect on these and share with others.
    Cheers
    ian

    Ian Sammons November 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm
  • Have been blogging internally for about 9 months now. While social-media is “unsettling” to organisational policy, I was encourage to share my learning and thoughts by a lean ‘thought-leader.’
    Not short of an opinion or two, I had plenty to say and enjoyed sharing my ‘journey’ with others, but translating that into text continues to challenge. As Jamie has mentioned previously it is a very good way to “sharpen my views.”
    While developing my style I have attempted to apply lean theory/principles to every day activities and how these have (or have not) created value, along with my own learning. Really appreciate the ‘starter prompts’ in the post above as recently have started looking further afield for material.
    Appreciate the thoughts shared here and will continue to reflect on these and share with others.
    Cheers
    ian

    Ian Sammons November 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm