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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corporate Policies on Web 2.0

One of the barriers commonly cited during my presentations around eLearning 2.0 (use of Web 2.0 / social media for work and learning) is that organizations often have not established their policies or guidelines around the use of these tools. Unfortunately, companies sticking their head in the sand doesn't do any good. Employees are using these things in some way. Companies need a policy. And most corporate guidelines out there around social media are fairly similar. They generally make each employee personally responsible, they need to abide by existing corporate rules, obey copyright and other IP rules, keep secrets and act appropriately.

I think IBM's policy is a pretty good starting point: IBM Social Computing Guidelines

Updated 6/2/2009.

Other company policies or discussions of guidelines I've seen around blogging, social media, web 2.0:
However, I'm not really sure how many organizations have these kinds of policies and who in most organizations establishes them.

If you have good articles, posts, etc. on how to get these established in your organization or stats on how common it is among different kinds of organizations, please point me to them.

In some ways, the question we face is -
If our organization doesn't have an existing policy, is that a fundamental roadblock to using certain kinds of Web 2.0 tools as part of our eLearning 2.0 solutions?

Is it worth our time to try to push for getting a policy established?


DrBob said...

In the UK, the creation of policy at this sort of level is instigated by the governors of publically accountable institutions. Web 2.0 can have significant impact in Universities (my area), hospitals and PLC's so if you have a heart and mind for it, lobbying the governors is a great starting point.

As far as blogging from a corporate point of view the balance is between:

1] sycophancy with a view to self advancement - you'll need to control the vomit
2] busting your companies ass in public..

the policy is simple: scriptor caveo

Nice blog by the way..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the Corporate Policies on Web 2.0 as I'm often asked by others for examples. So have added them to my list. Your link for "Hill & Knowlton Blogging policies and guidelines" doesn't seem to be working but maybe its me?

campos said...

Just move to a new company and was pretty frustrated with the restrictions on these technologies and social outlets. Thanks for this post as it gets me thinking on how I can get this approved.

Tony Karrer said...

Dr. Bob - wow, I'm not sure that this is that high up in US organizations, but I could be wrong.

Sue - thanks for the catch of the link. I believe I've fixed it.

Campos - I'm not sure about the value of time spent "getting it approved" ... I was hoping that some people had ideas on that.

Reputationist said...

First, thanks for gathering together the policies you have. I come at this issue from the stand point of social media's relationship to compliance with Sarbanes Oxley rules. There is an interest post that makes the point. Given Sections relating to code of ethics and whistle blowing in the Act - I can see the need for companies to pay much closer attention to their online policies and reputation.

I look forward to your response.

Tony Karrer said...

Thanks for the link to the post about SOX and social media.
In the post, you pretty much say that it must adhere to existing norms. Then, does social media significantly change what already is an issue, electronic communications? Yes, it increases volume, but I'm generally more worried about what's in someone's email/IM/chat than what they are posting in a more public forum (where they are conscious that it's public). But maybe I'm missing the point.

Ewan McIntosh said...

Hi Tony,

In Scotland I resist the temptation to provide model policies for Local Authorities and, instead, encourage them to do what we did in East Lothian: set up a wiki and get your local community to write them, providing information so that their writing and thought is informed.

More here:

Tony Karrer said...

Ewan that's quite a thought. Norms emerge over time in most groups, but having them documented, especially prior to norms emerging might be quite an interesting challenge. Will people be turned off?

Of course, you start with some foundation so maybe not such a big deal in practice - still seems like you may have real problems.

In corporations, not sure they would allow these to be emergent.

Anonymous said...

The main thing in crafting a Web 2.0 policy is to follow common sense. The guidelines are around two areas:

1) How to interact with people as a representative of your company. The same common-sense rules that govern F2F or telephone discourse apply here

2) What information is/is not fair game for discussion. Just as with F2F or other channels, the best approach is to assume everything is fair game unless there is a valid reason to not share it (such as with upcoming acquisitions, corporate earnings, etc). Lionel at Dell's experience with blogging about a product defect taught us all a great lesson here: if we remain silent on a topic like that, all we're doing is refusing to join in the conversation. It's far better to join the conversation and honestly own up to whatever's going on. I'd expect that with a vendor F2F and customers expect it via Web 2.0 tools.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for this post and the link to IBM's guidelines. Whilst IBM's corporate context is very different to the health context in which I work, I still think the guidelines are relevant to health professionals.

Your post is very timely because it seems to me that health professionals, in particular midwives, are being penalized for any sort of online social networking. I have just written a blog post about this, and would be interested in any feedback.

Anonymous said...

It seems like many of these policies are limited to blogging. Blogging is only the tip of the iceberg these days with all of the other places people are out there expressing themselves and representing their employers. I'll be interested to see whether some of these policies adapt over time to include a broader view of social media (like IBM has done).

jay said...

Cool, Tony, thanks. This is very useful. I am creating a one-size-fits-all policy to include in a generic community-in-a-box offering.