A couple of interesting things came up in the comments on my last post. Mary Abraham has found new energy for the concept of ‘encouraged’ internal blogging as a reflective tool, and Michael Axelsen talked about the potential pitfalls of corporate blogging. Today I’m going to tackle the first issue, writing for a corporate blog has been a challenge for me lately and I reckon there is a whole other post on that topic!
I’ll start with the guts of Mary’s comment on my last post
“It’s hard when a tool used initially for primarily social purposes is moved within a corporate environment. There inevitably is a restriction of freedom that comes with that transition. While I understand and sympathize with the social media purists, I’m also cognizant of the needs of the organizations that adopt these tools.”
I must admit, I’ve always struggled when rigid frameworks are applied to a concept. I did a KM subject at uni that focused on Communities of Practice. This was my first exposure to CoPs and the concept blew me away. Until that point I had never even considered informal learning, and knew little about knowledge management. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my head around the lecturer’s definition of a CoP, he described it as a very specific group with a very specific purpose. Rather than encouraging debate about natural knowledge communities that we had observed in our workplaces and how we could encourage them as part of a learning strategy; he debated with us for the entire class about which groups fitted the CoP mould and which didn’t. In the end I think we missed an opportunity to discuss how we could enhance our practice using this concept because we got caught up on details of the definition.
I see this happening in the response to Mary’s initial post. Sure, what is described is not necessarily a social activity, but does that mean it has no purpose or value? Today Mary advanced the argument for reflective blogging even further:
“This seems like a legitimate request for management to make. If employees have learned something, this request will encourage them to record that information where it can be shared and used by others. If they are given the time to reflect and the tools to record their reflections but don’t have anything to record, that’s an important indication to management.
…Does management need to take a closer look at the organizational culture that permits this approach?”
In response to Mary’s post, I found myself wondering where a tool is classified as social media, if a blog is purely used for reflective purposes, is it social media? If I use del.icio.us only to keep track of my bookmarks between work and home (as I did for the first few months I used the tool), is that social media?
I don’t know the answer to that but I do think that we should look at tools in terms of potential use, rather than typical use.