No I mean real ones who run real companies . . . . you know, big firms that your mum might have heard of and are listed and have tens of thousands of employees, not the bosses of research houses, PR companies, planners collectives, analyst groups, or ‘leading’ media consultancies. Well I think so, but few of them still do. I think so because these days keeping in touch with and managing stakeholder relationships can sometimes make or break or firm and will nearly always provide a competitive advantage and blogging and social media platforms can be great ways of doing that. Jonathan Schwartz at Sun Microsystems is one I admire as is Tom Glocer at Reuters. The old CEO of Ducati used to do a fantastic blog. Someone once said that 20% of a CEO’s time should be dedicated to communication and for many industries, though not all, social media is a really good way of doing that. Tom Glocer of course runs a media business and Jonathan Schwartz a tech business, and so their constituencies are more likely to be attuned to social media than those of many industries so perhaps it is not surprising they drank the koolaid

Tom Glocer gives another reason for his blogging though that I found really interesting:

“Growth requires innovation, and, unfortunately, innovation is not a linear process. When Columbus “discovered” the New World, he had actually set out to find a new route to India. The much admired Google similarly did not set out to invent the dominant ad monetization engine. Too much idle experimentation in the executive suite leads to a failure to execute on any plan; however, the total absence of imagination leads to plans that lead nowhere.

Now it could be argued, I suppose, that imagination and experimentation should be left to more junior or younger staff, and the chief executive should only perform “serious” duties like strategy formulation and ordering people around. I think this is a lousy and disconnected way to lead. I believe that unless one interacts with and plays with the leading technology of the age, it is impossible to dream the big dreams, and difficult to create an environment in which creative individuals will feel at home. This does not mean that the ceo needs to program a third-party app on Facebook, but I believe it is ultimately more useful in understanding business concepts like viral marketing, crowd-sourcing or federated development to use a live example rather than wait for the Harvard Business Review article to appear in three years time.

We should all feel comfortable to follow our own paths. What counts is the results, not living-up to some outdated view of what “work” looks like in the 21st century.”

I wonder if it is a coincidence that Tom Glocer has one of the best in-house PR people in the UK in Ed Williams who is about to go to the BBC?

[tags] CEO Bloggers, Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz, Tom Glocer, Reuters, Ed Williams [/tags]

Hat tip: Adrian Monck