Upending Top-Down Flow of Information – CEO Blogs

16 03 2011

Recovering from Information Overload

I’ve touched on CEO blogging in previous posts, but their prevalence in corporations necessitates a dedicated post.  CEO blogs are gaining popularity for several reasons, such as the easy way in which they are updated by the average computer user – allowing for frequent posts – and the personal connection they cultivate between a company’s head and the company’s larger work force. Blogs serve a variety of purposes, for instance they can help a CEO address questions before they are asked, which would allow for valuable time to be spent elsewhere.  Even when checking out of the office the executive is pouring over details in their mind while checking e-mail and the Internet, updating themselves with the unending flow of information; this often leads to multi-tasking, which actually has a negative affect on an individual’s work.  While checking your smart phone and responding quickly to e-mails may provide a welcome break, it ultimately slows you down when completing tasks and doubles your chances of making a mistake – according to a recent study.  Some might disagree, believing “I can multi-task.”  In practice, yes you’ll likely accomplish more by completing small tasks at the same time – but when it comes to completing the more difficult tasks, more often than not, multitasking begins to look a lot like procrastination.

CEO blogs are an excellent opportunity to free up some time and accomplish several tasks at once.  A blog provides a CEO or similar executive the means to filter and focus the interruptions they might receive during the day.  An executive can line up the day’s agenda, set objectives or goals, alert individual departments to specific commitments or responsibilities, and touch base with employees – humanizing a position that once sat in an ivory tower.  While only a small section of the daily post may directly concern everyone, as a member of that organization all of the information potentially holds value.  By posting information such as the daily agenda and what meetings department heads are in, it creates another resource before an executive is turned to with questions.  In this interconnected age, many believe you can’t get away from e-mail or question-seekers since slow responses might position you as an obstacle in the business cycle.  But many executives acknowledge they often deal with quick questions requiring simple, direct answers – these tedious, but often necessary, questions illustrate why blogging is a great tool to proactively engage these questions or critiques.  By providing information to a large audience you might already be answering the question in a post, or if a question is asked on a blog’s comment section it’s there for all to see, hopefully eliminating repeat questions.  Similarly, blogs are forever (you don’t clear the trash) and searchable, which makes them an easily accessible and permanent communications medium.

Providing employees with a birds-eye view of the company allows them to see how the gears are turning inside, and what their individual contributions can mean to the company as a whole, making it easier to visualize their job’s purpose.  Additionally this provides an excellent opportunity for recognition to occur more often.  I does not matter whether the CEO makes note of a specific department or branch, or even an individual – this recognition fosters a sense of locality, even in a large corporation.

The blog can be damaging though, if not done right.  It’s important that the executive managing the blog actually write it, as the blog should be an authentic representation of the individual and their corporate culture – after all, people are much more relatable than titles.  In order for the blog to gain/maintain value it should be updated regularly, and comments should be replied to promptly.  While others can respond to questions, it’s important that the responder accurately identifies themselves.  For instance, Phil Knight the founder/CEO of Nike hosted an intranet-based, all-employee global chatroom and several hundred employees participated in the first discussion online.  However, many felt the answers to questions posed were not actually from Phil and in turn, the next hosted chatroom drew a substantially smaller crowd.  Phil was in the chatroom, but answers were in part mediated by a corporate communications team.  Nike failed to take into account that there was a large amount of appeal not only in having questions answered, but in the genuine interaction with a top-level executive.

Blogs can be a great tool – but they need to be authentic, and they need to be genuine.  A blog should reflect the individual who is writing it, so an executive should not hesitate to include details about work-related travel or a great fishing trip, but posts should still serve a purpose.  Additionally, blogs need to be frequently updated or else employees will loose interest as infrequent updates diminish the value of a blog and discourage users from regularly checking for updates.

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One response

24 03 2011
Max Marzouk

This really good, Cam!

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