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Open Kimono

The Microsoft thing debated internally for all to see as Scoble challenges the way the company backed off supporting some anti-discrimination legislation in Washington State. Here’s his boss’s boss response. Other employees are jumping mad.

First, this is certainly a change in corporate communications – at least for the companies willing to tolerate embrace blogging. It is incredibly transparent – I guess follows the maxim that companies with nothing to hide needn’t fear transparency. If you are a stakeholder and you really can’t get a fix on Microsoft’s position via the media, then here it is. Once we waited for C/Net to publish another ‘leaked’ Microsoft memo. Now we get them real-time via blogs.

It’s also a shift in employee communications. Here we have the management/employee ‘food-chain’ exchanging views for everyone to see. No closed-door conversations. No gossip about what was said and what wasn’t. No time-lag between information distribution and eyeballs (total aside but a major issue for many companies is the hours it takes for email to reach desktops). Everyone is informed. Everyone gets to participate.

Second, it skirts an entire media cycle. Once upon a time we would have read about this exchange in the NYTimes or in The Reg. Now it’s here for all interested parties to see – unfolding in real-time. A journalist once said to me that transparency isn’t good for journalism. Maybe this points to that being true. If nothing it kills the leaked memo scoop so skillfully used by PR pros to manipulate the media generate coverage.

Third, and if nothing else, this certainly positions Microsoft as a company
willing to engage in dialog. But it’s more than that – this is an indicator of a new kind of
company. A company engaged in conversations and transparency. You could
even ask the question – How participatory is your company?

Microsoft might not be perfect – by any stretch – but this does signal a different kind of company.

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