Sun blogging turns communication upside down

5/31/2007 | Christian Kreutz

Sun Microsystems' blogging approach changes the company's communication and knowledge management. In wikinomics I encountered Johan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun, with his unusual approach of not being him the only one blogging but also his colleagues, whom he encourages to blog publicly about their work and anything else they are interested in. His concept has an outcome of about 3000 bloggers (around 10% of all employees).

The Sun blogger Jörg Moellenkamp did an interesting presentation last April during the re-publica conference. He explained enthusiastically how he communicates directly with his clients or other programmers, and how 'direct communication' improved his personal learning. Beside of a policy, the basic limited rule for blogging at Sun is: don’t tell secrets. This evokes the question: "Have you ever had a situation where a blogger posted something they shouldn't have?", which Linda Skrocki answered in her blog. In other words Sun has shaped its own blogosphere with almost 70.000 articles mainly in the realm of its work – as a provider for network computing infrastructure solutions.

I think this blogging approach offers a combination of internal and external knowledge management offering all sorts of community of practice. Blogs contribute to codify tacit knowledge and connect people inside and outside the organization. It also offers a different concept for customer relationship management.

I asked Möllenkamp if this approach is limited to the software industry or even those ones with an open source concept? He answered that it is rather Sun's unique culture, being it very open and putting a high level of trust in its staff. I wonder how this model could be applied to other industries or even non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? It could certainly enhance the accountability of NGOs and even more important, give opportunity to a real multiple networking for an organization in order to make their work more creative and effective. And as Allison Fine argues in her book Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected it would make members or sympathizers participants for social change.