Friday, August 15, 2008

Deming and business blogophobia

Why would a business that's dictatorial, controlling, and arrogant want a blog?

Business blogs are effective, but not as common as some would for some reason hope. The reason for businesses being sluggish and half-hearted about blogging is clear. It's not the fault of the blog. It's the attitude underlying blogging that some businesses are incompatible with, and cannot conform to, as it is intrinsically alien.

Blogophobic businesses dread contact with the public. They can't deal with sharing the conversation, instead of dominating it. Interaction with real customers is delegated to focus groups and usability persona workshops. Money is their aim, not customer empathy. Selling product is more important than understanding, and solving, customer problems.

Mary Walton's book on W. Edwards Deming, The Deming Management Method, discusses how American business managers rule by fear, which makes even their own subordinates refuse to communicate good ideas to them.

So how could we expect such organizations, who are deaf to their own employees, to get excited about setting up a blog to start conversations with customers?

People are afraid to point out problems for fear they will start an argument, or worse be blamed for the problem.

Moreover, so seldom is anything done to control problems, there is no incentive to expose them. And more often than not, there is no mechanism for problem-solving.

Suggesting new ideas is too risky. People are afraid of losing their raises or promotions, or worse, their jobs. They fear punitive assignments or other forms of discrimination and harassment. They are afraid that superiors will feel threatened and retaliate in some fashion.

In the perception of most employees, preserving the status quo is the only safe course.

-- Mary Walton
The Deming Management Method

(Perigee Books, Putnam Publishing, 1986, p. 72)

Deming taught the ideology of Continuous Improvement. Top management approves and implements change, so that's where the responsibility lies.

Without constant product evolution, based on user-testing and market research, organizations miss lucrative opportunities because they're averse to talking with end users of their products.

No conversation is deemed necessary, for all the outfit wants to say is "Buy my product" and all it wants to hear is "Love your product" as customers rush to buy some more.

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