Lessons Learned from Toyota’s Internal Blog

Dan Miller from Toyota presented on “The Clandestine Birth, Untimely Death and Hopeful Resurrection of Toyota’s Internal Blog.”

Dan started its blog, called “Sound Off” without review/approval by HR or Legal.

His Ground Rules:

  • Consistent Host/Author
  • Post one entry per week
  • Clear feedback guidelines
  • Low-key promotion

They didn’t use real blogging software, but copied and pasted feedback e-mails into the comments.

“Sound Off” was done in by a sexual harassment suit. Dan did a post about this and didn’t express an opinion, but asked for readers to share their opinions. Then he went on vacation to Scotland, and there were lots of opinions that had been shared by the time he got back. HR and Legal called IS and got the plug pulled. The concern about “discoverability” in pending litigation trumped everything else.

On the external side, Media Relations got support from Legal, giving Legal right to approve all posts before they go up. In return, Legal promised quick turnaround on review.

Dan says there is some light on the horizon, in that Town Hall meetings have capacity crowds. On the negative side, internal opinion surveys reveal that many associates are afraid to speak up.

Now he’s trying to get the internal blog going again.

They have engaged with Legal, and while they haven’t gotten a “yes” it hasn’t been “no” either. They are working through all sorts of “what if” scenarios. HR has become an ally. IS also wants to align with them as a way to get support for Sharepoint, which they likely will use for blogging.

Michael Rudnick says his company has focused on training and awareness. As to the discoverability issue, that’s really a red herring.  Blogging may generate more content that’s discoverable, but e-mail already is discoverable.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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