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Internal blogs, taboo and organised dissent

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —March 28, 2005
Filed in Communication

Dennis Hamilton has written a short piece describing his experience blogging inside the firewall—he works for an architectural and engineering firm. Dennis mentions three issues which differentiate an internal and external blog: losing support for your blog (your ideas) can be career limiting; mentioning taboo subjects can be career limiting; and criticising your organisation can be career limiting. I can see Dennis’ point. Within an organisation you are blogging for a single culture (and depending on the size of the organisation there might be many sub-cultures) and expressing your thoughts on a taboo subject might very well spell your imminent demise. Internal blogs speak to a mono-culture. A head-on assault will only result in the blogger being the first, and perhaps, only casualty.

While recognising the fraught nature of surfacing taboos, innovative organisation will have a capability for detecting what can’t be said. Internal bloggers might play an important role by probing the company, post by post, and reporting the response. Paul Graham’s excellent essay, ‘What You Can’t Say’, points out that heresies and taboos are either true or could be true, in which case shining a light on them could serve to either dispel myths or confirm the previously unthinkable and then act as a turning point for new ideas and directions.

Power and vulnerability will be at the heart of taboos so high level cover will be required for dissenters. We shouldn’t be running from dissent. Rather dissent should be built into the culture and supported within boundaries. Sure, we can’t have an organisation full of dissenting views; progress would be impossible. Organised dissent, however, should be fostered.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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