Sunday, June 17, 2007
The two best blog posts by CEOs this year were posted within 24 hours of each other.
On June 13, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote "An OpenSolaris/Linux Mashup."
The day before, Enterra CEO Steve DeAngelis penned "The Tension Between Creativity and Efficiency."
The posts are admirable for the same reason: they take serious criticism of the basic philosophy of a company head-on.
- Schwartz was reacted to an open letter by Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux operating system, which contained a detailed, technical attack on Sun's strategy, Sun's actions, and Sun's future.
- DeAngelis responded to a BusinessWeek article on how Six Sigma methodology nearly destroyed 3M's to innovate. As Enterra's "process automation" services amount to a high-tech "process quality" sell, Steve's post meant acknowledging a high-profile failure of a product very similar to his own.
Other corporations, both companies in the past and companies living in the past, would either ignore these barbs or wrap them in P.R. nothingness. Both Jonathan and Steve realized, however, that many of their customers read the critiques, and even more thought similar things themselves. They responded seriously, acknowledged real drawbacks, and contributed to the discussion.
What's especially interesting about Steve's writing is that it represents an improvement or what he wrote earlier. Last year, I criticized Steve for writing:
that resilience can't be developed sector by sector. It must be developed holistically, with challenges in each sector attacked simultaneously. Otherwise, advances in one sector are canceled out by setbacks in others.
On June 12th's post, he writes:
There have been (and will continue to be) managerial fads -- the next big thing -- but leaders need to remember that these are tools that must be applied correctly. The adage -- if you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail -- applies in business as it does elsewhere. You need to fill your kit with more than a single tool.
Indeed. No tool (and, of course, Enterra Solutions' services are a tool) is appropriate everywhere. Schwartz makes a similar point, acknowledging areas where Linux's technologies are better than what Sun could make in house.
Of course, the real questions still remain: Can Sun's OpenSolaris really displace Linux? Can Enterra's "ruleset automation" really cut through tangled regulations?
I don't know these answers -- right now, no one does. But honest communications with customers through blogs is increasingly part of the answer.
I suspect online discussions, such as ZenPundit's, are a part as well.
Posted by: a517dogg | Sunday, June 17, 2007
Most companies follow either the Sony or Toothpaste for Dinner  philosophies on "weblogging."
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, June 18, 2007