IBM takes big risk by encouraging 320,000* employees to become bloggers

Wow…this is *big* news. According to Silicon Valley Watcher, “Early next week IBM will introduce the largest ever corporate blogging initiative in a bid to encourage any of its 130,000 staff to become online evangelists for the company.

Immediately upon seeing this, my first thought was of the incredible risk this public company was taking by giving free rein to this number of people — especially in a Sarbanes Oxley world where it seems that even the least laissez-faire attitudes, policies and procedures have become anally retentive ones. The more I thought about it though, the smarter it seems: they’re opening the door to an acceleration of employee empowerment, of trust, of openness all while holding the promise of a multiplier effect of dialogue within the marketplace that IBM can use to its advantage. Imagine the trial balloons that individual groups and people within IBM could float with clients, partners and others around products, services, markets and disruptive ideas.

It’s even smarter when you realize that this is an open source-like position for them to take.

Apparently the bloggers at IBM are driving the guidelines for fellow bloggers (with some polishing by corporate communications and legal). One of IBM’s blogger’s, a guy named James Snell, has a blog post about “Blogging@IBM” that talks about this as well as showing the clear and concise guidelines provided to IBM employees — as potential bloggers — and what to keep in mind if they choose to embark themselves on a blogging adventure.

This is gutsy as hell. It’s also pretty amazing that a behemoth the size of IBM can move so nimbly and with such openness.

*UPDATE 5/18/05: Though Silicon Valley Watcher says “130,000” employees in their article, IBM employee and blogger James Snell says in his post that, on May 16th, IBM published, “…an announcement on its Intranet site encouraging all 320,000+ employees world wide to consider engaging actively in the practice of “blogging”.”

Makes this even gutsier in my view.

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