Mintzberg on corporate blogging


11 August 2004

I am re-reading the classic articles from the Harvard Business Review, and the 1975 article by Henry Mintzberg titled The Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact is not only as relevant as ever, but in the light of developments in using social tools in the workspace, Mintzberg seems to be advocating corporate blogging:

Let us take a look at three specific areas of concern. For the most part, managerial logjams – the dilemma of delegation, the database centralized in one brain, the problems of working with the management scientist – revolve around the verbal nature of the manager’s information. There are great dangers in centralizing the organization’s data bank in the minds of its managers. When they leave, they take their memory with them. And when their subordinates are out of convenient verbal reach of the manager, they are at an informational disadvantage.

The manager is challenged to find systematic ways to share privileged information. A regular debriefing session with key subordinates, a weekly memory dump on the dictating machine, maintaining a diary for limited circulation, or other similar methods may ease the logjams considerably. The time spent disseminating the information will be more than regained when decisions must be made. Of course, some will undoubtedly raise the question of confidentiality. But managers would be well advised to weigh the risks of exposing privileged information against having subordinates who can make effective decisions.

We argree with Professor Mintzberg’s 1975 comments. Today, we recommend tools like Socialtext or eGroupWare for corporate use.

2023 update

Note that the tools mentioned are long gone to history but most enterprise tools will have some form of blogging-like facility, eg Microsoft SharePoint’s communication site and news posts.