Unexpectedly Intriguing!
January 28, 2005

Update: Welcome Carnival of the Capitalists readers!

The recent appearance of "suitblogs" (see definition below) at both General Motors and Boeing marks a new development in the acceptance of blogging for business purposes. Of the two executives behind the blogs, GM's Bob Lutz does an excellent job in marketing his company's products to the Internet-linked auto enthusiast community, while Boeing's Randy Baseler's blog is essentially a more personalized corporate press release (a concurring review is available at Sound Politics.)

But blogs are capable of so much more! During my tenure at Boeing1, I had the opportunity to pioneer the use of the company's Intranet to manage production projects that involved work that had to be coordinated among team members dispersed at various company facilities throughout the Puget Sound, including sites at Everett, Renton, Seattle, Kent, Auburn and Frederickson.

Using internal web sites and e-mail to communicate project activity among project team members at each location, it quickly became apparent that the real power of the medium lay in being able to capture the knowledge of the project team members and disseminating it across the entire Boeing enterprise, both in space (over geographic distances) and in time (lessons learned in one project could be directly accessed in future projects, instead of relying on the "tribal knowledge" of project members).

For the projects I managed this way, all this knowledge capture was done by building and editing individual web pages in the days before blogging technology was even on the radar screen, and it was a real pain-in-the-neck to do. There was no nice, easy way to upload information directly to the web, and this obstacle blocked the proliferation of the practice. The loss to the company in being able to increase productivity through reducing learning curves can best be described as extraordinary in this regard. Worst, the losses go noticed because it's always been like that, so it becomes an unspoken cost of doing business.

Today, the technology behind blogging is changing everything. By automating the upload of enriched information in context (hypertext, images, data, etc.) directly to the web, and adding the ability to quickly and effectively search for relevant information, it is becoming easier than ever to both capture and disseminate real intellectual capital. The technology is on the cusp of being able to truly revolutionize how business within a company will be done - and it's much more than marketing.

Suitblog
:

noun, slang (2005): 1. A blog written by a business executive, or "suit". 2. A blog written about a set of garments.
Attribution: Ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Comment: If I Google it and I can't find it in English, I can claim credit for creating the word, right?

  1. Full Disclosure: Beginning in the early 1990s, I worked at Boeing for more than a decade, up until my job was effectively "killed" by terrorists in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and their effect upon the commercial aviation industry. At Boeing, over a third of the people at the commercial airplane company in 2001 have been laid off as a direct result of the attacks.

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