Intranet matters

Recipe for Failure… the Senior Management Blog on the Intranet

Published January 29, 2010 by Stephan Schillerwein

I was just reading a not publicly available case study on how not to do it when it comes to internal CEO (or CxO) blogs. The case study is about a big company (that shall remain unnamed*) that failed in an effort to establish blogging for their senior management on the intranet. The goal: to promote open exchange in the organization.
Here’s the approach they took – I urge you not to try this out in your own organization:

  • Assume it will just work (after all, this is Web 2.0 stuff…)
  • Provide one blog for all the senior managers to use together (to ensure hampering of personal identification)
  • Allow anonymous commenting in an environment with negative and unconstructive potential
  • Don’t address the issues raised in critical comments (to ensure them reappearing again and again)
  • Don’t brief your senior managers on how to make use of this instrument
  • Tell them that it is okay for the communications department to write the postings in their stead (to ensure loss of spontaneity and authenticity)
  • Don’t change the programme if you see that it doesn’t work, but rather leave it on its own to die in silence (to ensure a good starting position if you ever think of giving it another try)

I think that the value that can be derived from bad practise in the field of Intranet 2.0 approaches is quite substantial. As obviously defective the points listed above might seem, they keep coming up in projects again and again. In a way they (or at least some of them) seem to reflect a kind of “natural behaviour” in organisations today. So, having examples that prove that it is not going to work this way will hopefully help ease some of the discussion we all lead when introducing Web 2.0 approaches in the enterprise.

*Disclosure: I have no financial involvement with the company this case is about and they are not a client of mine or the organizations that I represent

13 comments


  1. My initial reaction was the ususal “When will they ever learn?” but on the other hand social media / web 2.0 initiatives on the WWW have risen at a unimaginable rate so if you don’t follow the area cloesly it will look like something that “just happened on its own”.

    My point: Online Media Professionals must step up and show that you need a professional approach.

    Of course it’s easier said than done but the mantra “try and fail, but don’t fail to try” doesn’t apply as broadly as it used to due to the fact that some 2.0 “gizmos” (eg. blogs) have become that much more mainstream.


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    […] un interessante post, il blog Intranet matter riporta un caso di studio relativo al fallimento di un progetto di blogging interno per i manager di un’azienda (non si sa molto di più). E’ molto interessante la lista […]


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  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  5. Yes, that looks like all the key points of ‘what not to do’ in one tidy list!

    While I agree it’s valuable to learn from mistakes, at this stage I just don’t see how people can keep making them. Anonymous comments, ghostwriting, no training or target objectives, no response to valid issues… It’s a recipe for failure.



  6. Thanks for posting this Stephan.

    This article lists some great practices to avoid and really nails the idea of learning from mistakes.

    Seeing a list of poor practices that lead to failure seems much more interesting and helpful than the usual best practices lists I see.



  7. This is not surprising at all. What complicates matters is the heavy dominance of fly-by-night social media experts/consultants. That’s the real problem – good advice on social media is hard to get. And when companies who have a tradition of good practices otherwise, get poor advice, it costs a lot in terms of reputation.



  8. The first sentence “Assume it will just work (after all, this is Web 2.0 stuff…)” pretty much sums it up.

    The availability of free software for Web 2.0 applications and the urge to participate in “anything Web 2.0” in combination with a “lets just give it a try” approach is a setup for failure and can severely hurt a companies or persons reputation.

    What it really takes is careful planning, the implementation of processes, the appropriate software, and a commitment to learn and stick with it for a while.

    As long as these requirements are not met blogs will just be successful by accident.



  9. Hi your work has been copied and used to promote communitelligence: http://communitelligence.posterous.com/recipe-for-failure-the-senior-management-blog

    They’ve done it with my content as well I’d thought you may like to know about it.



  10. Thank you for all your valuable feedback!

    @Alex: to be fair on this point I should mention that the project described happend in 2008. But still I of course agree to your point.

    @mark: thank you for hinting me at that. From my perspective this is just an aggregation of intranet and social media related content, so I don’t really mind. Or should I?


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