This month, I’m contracting at Norwich Union helping with their XP rollout. While walking the floors fixing things I spotted the header “Alex’s Blog” in Norwich Union colours on someone’s screen. The user was busy so I couldn’t ask them about it. But when I got access to the Intranet later on I found it by doing a search.
A number of html pages announced the blog and exhorted you to feed back. Only thing was when you clicked through to the blog itself (only available on the Intranet), there were no comments enabled nor an email address, ie. no way of feeding back. It wasn’t obvious even who Alex was, Alex was always refered to by his first name , so I couldn’t look him up in the company phonebook. After a few minutes surfing around the intranet (with it’s non Google search) I uncovered that Alex was an IT director (there’s about 5 apparantly) . Suddenly I was more than a little interested. I managed to cross reference the phone book to get a surname and an email address.
Alex Robinson, (in another life one assumes), was a journalist. So I guess he has a desire to write – and he writes well – little snippets about the people he goes to see and executive on the move type wonderings. You have to wonder about whether he has a desire for the opinions of his work collegues though.
I normally work in small companies, so its always a sh0ck to come back to an enterprise environment and just see the faceless nature of doing business in such a vaste organisation. (This is a critique of all large organisations not specifically NU) Information doesn’t seem to flow very well. I learn most of what I need to know in an ad-hoc way usually by asking other people. Each conversation that I have happens and then is lost, even if I write it down, come the end of June I am out of here. I will take my knowledge, so painfully gained, away with me.
Blogs are going to transform enterprises, both internally and externally. They are going to put an human face, an individual response to the faceless corporation. The are going to provide a way of archiving the conversations that happen and providing a knowledge base for the corp.
C’mon Alex give a voice to your employees. Not only give them a chance to feedback, give them a chance to blog. I’ve canvased some opinions (you have to chat about something when you are waiting for the machine to restart). One lady, Sarah, in HR was in need of a way of letting her collegues on different site know what she was doing. Others want to be able to let the business know what they were doing. I mentioned the blog to Sarah and she was definately interested.
I can’t forsee many problems from allowing internal blogging to happen in a unrestricted manner. I’m sure it could be really popular even. One of Alex’s recent posts mentioned the fact that he had over 1500 hits and that the receptionists were reading his blog. Thing is that he has a captive audience, Norwich Union don’t give anyone full Internet Access if they don’t need it, so the receptionists don’t have anything else to read except the Intranet.
The first thing that I would blog about and demand 360 degree feedback from the organisation would be on the state of the coffee in this place, its so uniformly awful on every godamned site I’ve been to.