Why Use an Internal Blog?

A few of the benefits to starting and running a private blog for your team.

Benefit #1: Create Shared Understanding

Aligned teams are more effective teams. Shared understanding means that everyone understands the goals, the facts, the hopes, the jobs to be done and the challenges ahead. This alignment is the goal of anyone with a leadership state of mind because it leads to far greater productivity and enjoyment.

But alignment is easier said than done. Have you ever walked out of a meeting where everone seemed to agree, but somehow as soon as everyone left the room, alignment seemed to fall apart? In most cases, that isn't because of ill intent, but because true alignment wasn't created in the first place.

Jeff Patton, a well-known product coach, summed up one of the problems behind shared understanding with this classic image:

Jeff Patton on shared understanding

You can't solve this problem with one tool or one technique. It takes repetition and multiple "form factors" to get alignment right. If you just write something down, you will miss the erroneous assumptions people make about what you meant. If you only talk about things, you'll find that the conversation often doesn't get precise and clear enough to avoid the problem in that cartoon.

An internal, private blog gives you a secure and confidential place to cover the topics that require shared understanding — topics that benefit from a longer-form, more-thoughtful written format than chat. And an internal blog has clear advantages over email and wikis.

With email, it is too easy for important messages to get lost. People are drowning in email. Once an email slips past the top of the inbox, it rarely gets read. Furthermore, new teammates don't have the benefit of an archive to peruse. Wikis on the other hand are most useful for documentation that doesn't change very often, but it is a terrible format for living, changing knowledge and stories.

A private blog creates a living place for key thoughts to live, while accepting the fact that knowledge is a moving target.

Benefit #2: Foster Thoughtfulness and Critical Thinking

Contemplation There's an old saying, "If you want to truly understand something, teach it." It's a fact that many people are intimidated by writing, but the undeniable truth is that being forced to write something down makes you internalize it, analyze it and understand it much better. This doesn't just lead to better communication, it leads to better decision making.

What's great about an internal blog is that it creates an avenue for this thoughtfulness, without being overly intimidating. A confidential, secure, internal-only blog means an author doesn't have to agonize over every perfect word the way you might for something the world might read. And of course, that confidentiality allows you to discuss important topics frankly, without thinking about spin or external perceptions. This is powerful whether you are talking about a key strategy or diagnosing a hard lesson learned.

Benefit #3: Encourage a Healthy Culture

Culture is the sum of a team and organizations actions and attitudes. An internal blog helps you emphasize key values by walking the talk. For example, if you want people to experiment more, have leadership share news about their own experiments, including what isn't working. If you want people to be obsessing over customers, an internal blog gives you a place to share customer stories and bring them to life. If you want the team to be goal-oriented, you can post OKR updates on a regular basis.

A private blog also lets you emphasize the softer sides of culture. For example, you can post photo essays of team outings. You can welcome new employees with information about their background and interests.

None of these pieces have to be pulitzer-prize winning material. Just authentic. It does take a champion for this kind of sharing behavior to take hold, but once the flywheel gets going, you'll find that people really appreciate it.

Benefit #4: Take Control of Your Narrative

Control Your Narrative So often teams (and individuals!) put their head down and focus on their work, but forget how important the job of externalizing can be. If you don't control your own narrative, people will make assumptions or draw false conclusions. Why shouldn't you want them to know what is going on and why? You and the team will not only benefit personally, but it will increase the odds that you'll get important insights and feedback from others.

A private corporate blog gives both teams and individuals a chance to share what is going on and the reasons behind everything. If this benefit motivates you, here's a few tips that might be obvious but are worth calling out:

  • Do: Be thoughtful about what you share (see Benefit #2), including how you share, when, how often and how much. At least with an internal blog, you're not contributing to the drown-by-email epidemic.
  • Don't: Be inauthentic, or overwhelm people with minutia and small tactics. This isn’t about telling people how busy you are or how many hours you work. That’s a sure-fire way to get people to tune you out.

Image Credits: Jeff Patton, Yuliya Ginzburg, Matt Botsford