Every company talks about being real, open and authentic and nobody does it it, my company, LexBlog included.
Being real, open and authentic requires a a company letting the outside world know what makes the company tick, what they’re working on, what they’re learning, what they’re struggling with and so much more.
This message, communication and engagement obviously has to come from the company’s team members – its employees. It sure can’t come from marketing, communications and PR – that would be lipstick in this situation.
With technology, enabling open and authentic dialogue is a snap. A blog and Facebook come to mind.
A blog works best as it enables a company to capture this historical “team diary,” enables indexing on Google for shared research, easy subscription via RSS and email and social sharing by the team and the public across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
So a blog it is for LexBlog – donuts.lexblog.com. Everyone of my teammates will have the capability of openly sharing what they’re working on. Tech, editorial, products, sales, support/success, operations and accounting, all are in.
No one is going to question each other for sharing too much. God knows, I am open as all get out about what LexBlog is working, what I’m excited about and where we’re challenged – on the road and, when I make the time, online. Let “being smart” be your guide.
The inspiration for donuts comes from blogging – as it was and still is – a conversation. Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Shel Israel (@shelisrael) authored the book, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, eleven years ago.
The book is about how blogs, bloggers and the blogosphere is changing how businesses communicate with their consumers and other stakeholders. Rather than marketing speak, have an open dialogue with the outside world – or at least those who listen in.
And enabling the world to listen in is what being an open and authentic organization is all about.
Thirteen years ago, Scoble and three fellow Microsoft employees created Channel 9 for their company.
Microsoft was viewed as the evil empire. With Channel 9, Microsoft customers could listen in just as passengers on United Airlines could listen in on an unfiltered conversation in the cockpit via its audio Channel 9.
Channel 9 enabled Microsoft employees to share thoughts and work via blog-like posting and other media. Channel 9 enabled a conversation between Microsoft employees and its audience of customers, developers and the media – bloggers and traditional.
Rather than public relations, marketing and its chairman, Bill Gates, Microsoft could have a real voice through its employees and listen to people as real people themselves.
Customers/developers could nurture relationships with Microsoft employees, share input and feedback with Microsoft developers and ultimately, shape future product development.
When it came time to buy, customers (often technology companies and their developers) were buying products they knew were coming, that they helped shape, and from people they trusted and from a company with whom they had a real relationship.
Microsoft employees learned through this dialogue. First they shaped their thinking through writing and by attracting people with similar interests they grew a “learning network.”
The “Channel 9 Doctrine” is inspiring and can guide our efforts at “donuts.”
- Channel 9 is all about the conversation. Channel 9 should inspire Microsoft and our customers to talk in an honest and human voice. Channel 9 is not a marketing tool, not a PR tool, not a lead generation tool.
- Be a human being. Channel 9 is a place for us to be ourselves, to share who we are, and for us to learn who our customers are
- Learn by listening. When our customers speak, learn from them. Don’t get defensive, don’t argue for the sake of argument. Listen and take what benefits you to heart.
- Be smart. Think before you speak, there are some conversations which have no benefit other than to reinforce stereotypes or create negative situations.
- Marketing has no place on Channel 9. When we spend money on Channel 9 the goal is to surprise and delight, not to promote or preach.
- Don’t shock the system. Lasting change only happens in baby steps.
- Know when to turn the mic off. There are some topics which will only result in problems when you discuss them. This has nothing to do with censorship, but with working within the reality of the system that exists in our world today. You will not change anything by taking on legal or financial issues, you will only shock the system, spook the passengers, and create a negative situation.
- Don’t be a jerk. Nobody likes mean people.
- Commit to the conversation. Don’t stop listening just because you are busy. Don’t stop participating because you don’t agree with someone. Relationships are not built in a day, be in it for the long haul and we will all reap the benefits as an industry.
Hey, donuts is just starting. One post from Garry Vander Voort, our COO is all we’ve got so far. But I am optimistic, I’ve got a heck of a talented, caring and passionate team. I can’t wait to turn their thinking loose on you – and your thinking loose on us. .
Why “donuts?” It seemed obvious, with all our products named after doughnut types from a Seattle donut chain. Maybe Josh Lynch, our CTO, can chime in with why donuts for product names.