The team credited for creating Sun Microsystem‘s blogging community, blogs.sun.com, has received the company’s Chairman Award. The title of the award is "blogs.sun.com: Humanizing Sun, Changing Perceptions and Re-Enlisting Champions".
It’s kind of hard to believe that it all started with a discussion in a big conference room where we convinced our COO that blogging was a good thing. Almost a year later (geez, has it been that long?) and we’ve been recognized by executive management as top innovators.
This is, probably, the "secret" ingredient of Sun’s success in opening blogging to its employees: the fact that an initiative coming from grassroots has been totally embraced by the senior management team. If you didn’t get this feeling from Jonathan Schwartz’s postings or from Tim Bray’s weblog, maybe these snippets from a 2004 interview with the Sun’s (then) vice-president of of global communications Andy Lark will convince you:
- "Many companies think they can introduce blogs. They can’t. Employees introduce blogs. Customers blog. Shareholders blog. Even executives blog. All we did was turn the web into a printing press so more employees can engage."
- Isn’t Lark a little worried about what might emerge in this uncensored forum? “Why hide your voice? Our employees are smart and will ultimately do the right thing. And some of them write really well. Blogs improve communication – inside and out. Employees understand how responsible they are for our reputation.???
- But Sun’s blogs do have a downside. “They really freak the lawyers out. And some of the grammar is shocking. Both are meaningless in terms of the benefits – although the lawyers might disagree … It’s just entertaining to see some of the stuff our employees have an opinion on.???
- Lark’s final word: don’t try to fight the blog. Your staff are going to chatter anyway, so it’s best to try to be a friendly facilitator rather than network dictator. “Unleash them. Give employees the printing press. It’s going to be much easier to manage if it’s your press. Organisations with septic cultures are going to have a real hard time not changing. Employees will lay them bare.???
Sounds like a Cluetrainish fairy tale in Corporate Blogland, right?
Other resources on blogs at Sun:
- Sun policy on public discourse
- Making Sun policy – Tim Bray, Technology Director at Sun Microsystems, May 2, 2004
- Sun blogs directory
(Update – April 29, 2005: added the award’s title, found on Doc’s blog.)