Microsoft and Blogging

Lee from Common Craft has been doing some work with Microsoft lately. He has some very interesting observations about MS and their blogging overall. Here’s a few of my favs:

The demand comes from individuals. More than a couple of times, I’ve heard quotes from employees saying “I’m tired of Microsoft being called an evil empire”. Employees see blogging as a way to show Microsoft is a different and more human company.

Blogging at Microsoft is very hands off. The biggest policy is “Don’t be Stupid” and the PR and Legal teams have adopted a very open and supportive approach to blogging.

And this is why it works so well. The funny thing is that many many people in business operate on the "but something bad might happen" mindset. They won’t do anything until Legal has signed off on it. This comes from a combination of fear and lack of comfort with risk. After all, if something bad happens and Legal signed off on it, the likelyhood of loosing your job is much lower , right? Maybe.

One of my favorite phrases from the dot com era is "Launch and Learn". In order to be able to operate like this, you have to have management and senior management who believes in that mindset too. If you’re going to be judged by results six minutes after launch, you don’t have support from management, and it’s time to either work on changing their mindsets or finding a new job.

There are people within the company like Betsy Aoki and Korby Parnell who are driving the blog strategy and working every day to educate and inspire people to understand blogging.

Advocates are incredibly important. They teach colleagues what things are all about in the particular subject they’re being charged with. OK, beyond teaching, it’s about pushing. It’s about breaking that initial comfort level and then helping to get that person comfortable again. Then breaking that comfort level a second time. Rinse, repeat, have great company success.

More on this in an upcoming Community Guy post.

It’s working. The company is seeing the blogs play a positive role in public relations and communications with the market at large. This is adding to the executive support.

Of course it’s working! And like so many things, small success are leading to big success, which in turn is leading to increased buy-in. And how do you get total buy-in (or at least as near to total as human nature will allow)? Let those big success roll into huge successes.

Check out the full list on Lee’s site – some great observations. To me, this shows clearly that, when done right, blogging (and more importantly – participation in social technologies) can do great things for a company.

Also be sure to check out this Scoble interview with Steve Ballmer. Great interview – how much did this cost? Uh, nearly nothing. Yet, the insight into Ballmer as a person, and the reality of MS work is priceless.


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