Putting Execs on Blogging Steroids

July 17, 2003

in Accelerating Innovation, Blogging, Knowledge Innovation

There is an old joke about how many people it takes to change a light bulb. So…. How many bloggers do you need to change a company? How many newreaders (subscribers in a co) do you need to change information habits?

How do you seed the change? How many should you start training. Who goes in that initial learning to blog team after the blogging briefing… where you said… “Hey that’s a great idea!” lets train some bloggers.  How do we start?

Working though newreader solutions was just one thing I wanted to speed up. I can see I’m still getting good input on that score. I wanted better content examples and the capability to answer the “corporate” question. How do we seed the movement? Alternatively, if you are already a blogger in a business how do you determine the tipping point is near? How do you decide that blogging may really be ready to rock your corporate world?

These questions started by following Sharpreader, Feedster, (which provides smart methods to search blogs for information) and Technorati that replenished my memory on particular posts tracing back to posts in late June found again by exploring Marc’s post on AOL Journals. Frankly I don’t see the direct connection in the article to what I’m writing about here. Still I’m sure AOL will integrate news with both e-mail and IM options (Already begun!). Still something connected and fired some neurons from the above questions to link it to the rules below.

John Patrick reports he’s met with “quite a few” senior executives of major corporations in the past week or two “but not one had even heard of blogging. One said, ‘blobbing?’…”[Corante: aa Corante on Blogging]

While writing a blog is a whole different area and much is being written about it, i will focus here on how we might get more executives to start reading blogs.  The ‘why’ is obvious to bloggers – the RSS feed is an amazing tool for aggregating news from sources of your selection and promises to get only better in its width, depth and “user-friendliness”.  The benefit – in allowing the reader to stay on the cutting edge of thought and development in his or her area of specialization and interest, due to the real-time online reporting and discussions.  This becomes a more dynamic source, as a result.   The ‘how’ is the greater challenge, as the ‘why’ may not be perceived unless experienced first-hand.  [Conversations with Dina]

This reminds me of a rule… 1-9-90 which was recently shared with me, and one other. What I’d call the square root rule. I’d like to know how well these will stand up? Lets set the context and then test them.

RULE ONE 1-9-90. From gaming a variation on the 80/20 type rule. 1% really make it happen in a community being responsible for most of the postings and activity. Group 2 the next 9% are on the active fringe, doing a little more than lurking with infrequent posts and forays. While the final 90% are simply lurkers… along for the ride and information. So the theory goes… that for every person that a Group 1 can convert from Group 2 the expanded community grows by one hundred.

RULE TWO Square Root Rule. To change a company requires the square root of the number of employees involved. So 10 employees can change a company of one hundred, and 32 to change a company of 1000. Clearly it helps to have certain people involved from top to bottom. Still it provides a starting point. In the company of 100 they may not all have to work full time. In the company of 1000 some may have to work full time on the project.

So what might these type of rules mean to blogging and newreaders?

Starting with RULE TWO. In a company of 100 we train 10 people to start blogging. In the larger 1000 person organization we might start by creating a blogging program for some 30 people. In each case these will be enough to change the way information begins flowing. The bloggers will also need some self-help forums and will likely expand this support dimension further. In the 1000 person company that is 3% of the workforce! 

Then applying RULE ONE, we require each blogger to recruit ten subscribers to set them up with a list of internal and external subscriptions to begin.  I’d guess at least 50% internal feeds to begin. The bloggers having done the first training course and begun blogging will now facilitate some simple NewsReader training sessions. No doubt some employees will recruit the same subscribers and others may even resort to some external subscribers. The bloggers will set up an obligation with the subscribers to provide comments to their blogs and they will run some ” personal feedback” sessions with their subscribers to build their understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

The newsreading subscribers can personalize and add to their feeds at will. They will also have access to the aggregated corporate feed. From an early audit… and discussion some key blogging categories will have been set up and standardized. Now Executives wanting to find out about project X can search their news reader if there is not a direct category for it. A senior exec asking the questions… “What do we know about product X or company y?” (will get not only internal feeds but insights into external feeds that are being watched by employees. Knowing who is tracking what will quickly become more visible from the blog posts.

I’d predict that early subscribers are likely to become bloggers, and the thus it’s the exponential impact of the newsreader that will change how information is shared. Those are just the early light bulb moments.

However let’s take it one step further.  What happens when rule one is applied to an organization where everyone blogs?  We get the innovative solutions found in beta software from the 9 factor (comments and referrals), and we get the brand commitment factor found in the organizational lurkers.  To put that in context… Every employee is worth 100 advocates for the brand.  Can’t think of any businesses that have that sort of reach currently.  Now is that a stretch?

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