The importance of an independent corporate blog, Officeworks and environmental advocates conflict as an example

Since Reflex lost its environmental certification because of their Victoria’s forests wood chip, and though they are still certified under the Australian Forestry Standard. Officeworks found themselves in the middle, between environmental advocates (some of which are their customers)  on one side  and their commitment to their other customers, partners and stakeholders on the other side. There is a pressure on Officeworks to stop selling Reflex’s papers in their stores. Even though more than 650 companies boycott Reflext, the advocates are pressing on Officeworks since they are one of the largest stationary retailers in Australia.

Officeworks has a valid point, as their managing director Mark Ward mentioned, that boycotting Reflex will not solve anything, and all their paper is certified to the Australian Forestry Standard, which is recognised by the international group Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, and they are looking for alternatives of the local timber.

However, Officeworks have shown a commitment to the environment by cutting their ties with one of the biggest Asian paper makers, APRIL, because they are illegally logging Indonesian forests, and it’s a different case than Reflex which is legal and still certified under AFS. Also Officeworks  consider the environment one of their responsibilities, and they actually didn’t defend Reflex’s acts.

So, why when we open Officeworks page on Facebook we found people are complaining everywhere? why Officeworks point of view is only mentioned in a small part at the end of the news? or directing people to a forum created by Australian Papers the owners of Reflex?

This is one of many cases where companies found themselves have to start a conversation with the audience, Officeworks for example has an advanced website with many services, but no blog to have their points of view, the blog also may have interesting information and news about, for example, printing and design which will catch the interest of many people. But mainly it’s a platform to clarify their opinion to the public and start a conversation that led by them; a link to the post maybe posted on their wall on Faccebook and on twitter so whomever want to criticise them, will have a background about their attitudes, then the conversation will be more matuer. Officeworks points of view about this issue is peppered on small replies on Facebook, if it is a full strong convincing argument on one place owned by Officeworks like an official blog, something like what Telstra is doing, then it will clarifies their attitudes and commitments to the environment, and we may have another side among environment advocates that defends Officeworks.


The critical phase of adapting Enterprise 2.0 in your organisztion

There are a lot of fantasy around E20, many positive things can start and flourish in the organisation as E2 consultants tell you, but how to get there? how to make your organisation be like that fancy world. Adapting E20 in an organisation has many rational and expected steps:

  1. Defining a problem to solve: Usually a communication or knowledge management problem, sometimes lake of innovation by itself can be a problem, as clear and measurable the problem is defined as the ease of defining your ROIs. You can also include some encouraging facts about the competitive workplace and skills recruiting
  2. Map that problem to a certain processes and cases: Means finding where are these problems; by certain case examples or to describe where in the business preocesses E20 will fit
  3. Chose the tools and vendors to accomplish these tasks: With explaining why for each one of them; solving the organisations problems have to be clear in these tools
  4. Specify a pilot department: I advise you to start with somewhere in the IT that is in a relation with the team that will implement E20. Beyond the technical benefits, this will start one the core directives of E2, which is the social interaction, there might be many subjects to talk about between these two teams, and they’re work areas might be related, so there will be a lot of content, that will encourage others
  5. Involve higher management: It’s a workplace, and employees like to be visible, their work, contributions and personalities, if they know that they’re at sight, they will be encouraged
  6. Market the success to others: It makes sense that the experiment can socially expand by itself, but this is only if it was so good to be true; you have to tell the others in commercial way so they will be encouraged
  7. Employ back the organisational experience: Since both the desired and undesired results of E2 are unexpected, you also have to be ready for the undesired ones, the new transparency and democracy may result in some conflicts, contractings with the old ways of doing things or wastes of time; depending on the culture of the organisation these should be resolved, and preferably by communicating with the same tools, since you want to fix the communication. Also you have to find all the positive results and encourage them.
So, where is the critical phase? It is steps 4, 5, and 6 since all the things before that is theories and after that is also critical, but not for your organisation only but for everyone else, since this practice is new, and there are not yet long run cases to refer to, you have to keep your knowledge up to date.
Here are some references that I read before writing this artilce:

Why social media is legally risky?

Social media is a huge change in people’s lives, you can see this statistics about Facebook that explains it:

companies found their customers as well as employees evolving in this new communication heap. What if our employees said anything in their social profiles, is it considered the corporates opinion?  Is the risk comes from joining the crowd and has, for example, a Facebook page or ignoring the change to prevent offending.

If a company paid for an employee 8 hours a day, is anything they contribute to social media at this time belongs to them?

If a company is interviewing someone for a job, can they consider his personal appearance and posts on social media as criteria?

Could I as a customer jump in a company’s Facebook page and type or tweet all offends that I can?

To answer these endless-looking questions, ask them again with removing the social media element, so, if an employee said anything in her/his paid time is it belongs to the company? Of course not, simple! Can I go to a company’s branch and shout to the reception about their bad services, they will work it out! It always happens. If a company wants to hire someone, they will notice his personality as much as they can; they also can ask anyone about him or her.

The biggest problem with social media, is everything is documented, and that what makes most of the struggle, the second thing is, it’s hard to find the boundaries that control what you’ve published about yourself or not, and . Since I was using the internet before the Web 2.0 boom, I was able to control my appearance on the web, and by the time passes, I was losing control until finally, Googling my name will have many things that I didn’t know that they’re there, hoping there is nothing bad buried in my memory but not in Google’s memory.

In courts, single evidence is enough to make all the difference, and we are leaving everything possible behind us.

It is very important that lawyers –or anybody works in the justice sector- understand the importance of the data on social media, not only to avoid the risk for their clients but also for themselves. This is clear in Stoam Holding case 2 years ago when Stoam lawyer Drew Ledbetter used a juror’s tweet as an evidence, and these tweets were seriously taken as evidence with their tweeting time.

And since the social media boom is still growing, it’s not clear how it will change to the legal aspect of our life, and what other legal related traps it will create.

Creating social media policy for a class – the scope

It is important when setting a social media policy is to clarify the scope of it. Which users the policy targeting and in what external or internal tools. Because legally if something wrong happened the scope can be a possible escape or an involver. People uses social media all the time and it’s part of their personality and appearance, and what ever your organization it’s impossible to totally control them, here is a simple funny chart from social media today that explain a little bit about how complex and vary the risks associated with the personal vs.  official use of social media policy:


It is also clear in the recent patents war between Microsoft, Apple and Google. Microsoft executives Frank X. Shaw and Brad Smith was tweeting from their personal accounts to represent Microsoft’s point of view, and the media was taking this seriously.

By investigating some existing media policies from New South Wales Government, Queensland Government, IBM and Tesltra Extra and going through this guide,  and from my past experience of creating e-learning courses to ensure policy awareness in Saudi Telecom Company. The class social media policy has to have a clear scope, purpose and other elements that the class may not need (like background information and definitions), so here is the suggested scope and I will update the Wiki page to add it:


This social media policy applies to all INN346 and INN346 students of the second semester 2011 at QUT. And it includes their uses of social media tools that includes:

  • QUT’s internal websites that the students may participate in, either at classes or as part of QUT’s non-class activities
  • External social tools, like social networking websites (ex. Facebook, LinkedIn..etc.), blogs , micro blogging, Wikis or any tool that provide mass participation to the public.

“No Emails” is it loss of control or total control?

If you are a project manager, your email inbox will have:

  • All your team progress
  • All project documents (including all previous versions (including all team members editions of previous versions))
  • All your higher management comments
  • All your friends funny emails!
Whatever method that your email client tries to do to arrange it, it will still on that client, and each member of your team will have their own way of arranging them, and that was just an example. This is one of the main problems that gave the raise of Enterprise 2.0, here is a match between Enterprise 2.0 tools and functionalities:
Personal point of view expander, and an updates stream. So the project manager have a single point for announcements and their following comments and discussions, and team members (or employees generally) can put some ideas or whatever will benefit the others, and of course since it’s in their blog, and it’s publicly their idea, it will give them a credit.
As a collaboration data organizers and a semi-dashboard of the project or the department. Where every team member can see and change the latest data and documentation available, many collaborative processes take a lot of time and some of them sleep for a while in the inbox.
Internal Social networks:
Open and equal oppurtunity discussion platform. Employees will be able to share, chat exchange ideas in a neutral place, it’s much faster and more organised than email conversations. They are agile to do the same thing that the monster emails do.


The previous uses of Enterprise 2.0 tools clarifies that it’s all about visibility, as Austin Hardware benefited this principle to make transparency that helped requirements from customer service to reach product development. Without Enterprise 2.0 technologies those data have to pass through a log chain of managers and many others in the middle to look at it and then to decide whether it’s interesting to be passed through or not, it’s a great example to know the power of information flow and it’s not make since that managers and staff see everything through the email microscope. There are other examples that solved some difficulties which will be discussed in the next section.

Shortcomings & Engagement

There are little and technically temporarily shortcomings with Enterprise 2.0 technologies compared to the email, which are files attachments and instant notifications. But some of  the main shortcomings, even if you set the policies and procedure, and assures every user of these technologies are aware of them are the implementation and engagement shortcomings, the change has to be gradually and here are two ways to do it:
  • You can start from the most relevant department, the IT, as AL Essa CIO of MIT’s Sloan School of Management . They will like it because it’s about their careers and passions, and they would love to see it as an experiment, plus the bug fixes and features addition -which are expected to be a lot at the beggining- will be much agile there. The IT will be a marketable proof of concept.
  • Or, if the management is really convinced by the idea,  they can specify a non-email day or social day as the employees of NewsGator doing, such a day will let everyone try the technology specially the  non-IT staff with minimising the risks
Finally, if many employees can see the data, means many chances that this data can go to the wrong path, as will as many chances that it finds non-expected useful path. It’s important to know that there can’t be information exposure without risks.

“Openness” as a business backbone

Once upon a time, the only way to communicate with your co-workers was yelling!  and as technology evolves, it is clear that where communication is better, collaboration is better, so a bigger projects and work is done then the enterprise in a better comparative situation. Since late 90s traditional Enterprise Systems made it possible for an employee to check weather the company has  the financial ability, the storage space and all required approvals before doing a purchase order. Now companies want more, they want everybody to think in the same time Wikis and Blogs can be considered as a project management tools to replace the heavy use if emails. Also there are other tools that can encourage the innovation in the firm like what IBM did with its Innovation Jam to have its crowd sourcing in action. Such benefits encouraged the rise of companies that produce a Web 2.0 applications just for the enterprise sector, like Million Brains which is an internal product to encourage the innovation through collaborative intelligence within a firm and helping it to make it real, and Yammer which is an enterprise social network (something like Facebook). Also companies want the communication to be extended to their customers. British Telecom has applied the methods of Enterprise 2.0 which gave them a better internal communication where chats are open and the traditional boundaries are narrowed and the consumers are participating in the products definition. In addition, collaborating with the outside world can result in an unexpected results like when NASA shared with the public their Mars rover missions, then rover Spirit had stuck, and NASA created a dedicated blog for the public to follow what happens to her, they received  a suggestion from a 7 years old to use the front camera arm to to rescue the rover

Julian's suggestion

The downsides

There are major difficulties in applying Enterprise 2.0 in organizations, in terms of both pushing people to participate and pulling them from being too wild. As Julian Birkinshaw mentioned in The 5 Myths of Innovation, the second myth which is don’t expect people just to come in, and what happened in IBM’s Innovation Jam included a lot of marketing campaigns because it requires cultural change in the firm which is not easy, Also it’s a way to collect many existing data that can or cannot be beneficial especially if it’s from the public. On the other side, Enterprise 2.0 success has many risks which require a lot of changes in the policies and regulations regarding information security and confidentiality, and this means a clear awareness to the staff.

The bottom line

Companies can’t ignore the idea of applying a new concept such as Enterprise 2.0 because otherwise their rivals may know how to benefit from it and be more efficient to keep them behind. So at some point they need to investigate how can they gain from it with the least pain.

The Blogging Venture

Why Blogging?

Before talking about Enterprise 2.0, it’s obvious to be a Web 2.0 personnel, because Enterprise 2.0 is a small version of Web 2.0 in an enterprise. Web 2.0 is the new ways of communicating through the web and among them is blogging. It is one of the oldest characteristics of Web2.0 and it still strong and widely used, because it’s an independent agent about you, especially if you have your own server hosting, you rule it, customize it and nothing limits what you’re writing. In this post I’ll discuss some blogging motivations and how to set yourself a personal brand.

Motivations & Purpose

As a start consider blogging as talking to your self and being clear with it. By explaining what you will do or what problem do you have to others, you first explain it to yourself, and this will help you a lot to perform better, and that’s an intelligence. Many bloggers found some of their main motives after they started.  The readers and their impressions and comments have a special fancy. Also it’s an archive to your thoughts and ideas even for your self. Some people express their ideas as a reference and before doing anything to implement them, also to hear about it from others to improve it. As a result it will be an ongoing resume that has you latest thoughts and projects. As much you give it as much it gives you.


Here are some hints that will help you to succeed on your blogging endeavour:

You enjoy it first: To reach the targeted audience means to convince them to leave all the interesting things in the web (or life!) and read your blog, so you have to be interesting and the most important way to do it is to write about something you’re passionate about, and surely you’ll enjoy talking about it in the real life.

Defining your figure: Speculate your real personality to be able to build your brand or personality on the web. Your tone, colors posts style..etc have to be somehow connected and revealing a confident personality. This also involves removing who you don’t want to be, as this illustration shows:

Marketing your skills: If you want market some of your skills for potential customers or employers, put some of them for free! give some of your experience or work for the people to look at it, it’s ether they will be impressed and hire you or you will get a useful feedback.

Measuring your success: There are many ways to measure your success, watch the statistics, comments, trackbacks and whatever can help you keeping an eye on how people looking at you.


It is a way to express yourself  in a context you chose for an objective. I hope this you binifitted from this post, and if you have any comments, additions, suggestions to leave it in the comments area.

Useful references:

41 Blog Success Tips from 10 Years of Blogging You Can Learn Today

Personal Branding – Using a Blog to Create/Communicate Brand YOU

How To Measure Success of a Blog (120 Days in Numbers)

Why Talking to Yourself Might be The Highest Form of Intelligence