One of the highest compliments we get is when people acknowledge the relative degree of neutrality we maintain and still manage to keep our jobs at EMC. It is not an easy thing to do. I have had this conversation so often lately I thought I would share some things about the blog that help us keep on track and the informal guidelines we try to follow.
- We started the blog before we came and will continue when we leave – this drives us to maintaining our “autonomy” and not simply repeat marketing messages indiscriminately. EMC is forward thinking enough to acknowledge the importance of an external personal brand and provides good guidance on what they think is acceptable.
- We write what is interesting to us on our own time with our own resources – this obviously cuts into the amount of time we have to blog but the fact is that part of living and working with integrity is to make sure the blog never takes away from what is expected in the day job
- We don’t bite the hand that feeds us. We are very opinionated (as you might have guessed) and I won’t say we agree with everything EMC does but we deal with our own dirty laundry in house. There are a great many topics that I would love to address but at the end of the day it would not benefit my employer to address them in a public forum. I owe the company that deference for allowing us to maintain an independent voice.
- We don’t repeat anything from EMC marketing or engineering unless it is really interesting to us – We get requests on fairly regular basis for promotions of initiatives and I don’t mind helping get the word out when it benefits the community. If however I don’t have a strong interest I don’t go out of my way to do it.
- We don’t bash a competitor just because they are one – no matter how much fun it is. We both come to this blog with very long histories with Documentum so affinity is going to show and while it may appear that some vendors get a more negative spin we try to make sure our criticisms are valid and justified by something more that just the fact they are not Documentum.
- We don’t avoid saying something good about a competitor if they do something we think is smart – If anything makes me nervous it is this point. Not so much for what my employer will think but rather for what the competitor will do with my words. Especially the fear they might be taken out of context. It doesn’t stop me but I do sometimes tone down my reactions so as not to encourage misquoting.
- We focus on impact of vendors actions to the industry not just their customers – The most vocal criticism we have is often when a vendor does something that pushes the industry in a direction we don’t agree with.
- When asked to discuss market and new products by other companies we will always do so with full disclosure and will respect the confidentiality of all parties – As tightropes go, this is the thinnest. Neither of us works in product management but by virtue of our experience and the writing here we are sometimes approached by competitors to discuss things at various levels. More than once we have been asked to do this without the other party realizing we work for EMC. Most however are OK with the arrangement and we have been doing this long enough to have a good sense for where the lines are as to what we should and should not discuss. This may seem risky but these are some of the most meaningful conversations and we do what we have to make sure they continue.
- We NEVER discuss acquisitions or divestitures by EMC until public. All other vendors are fair game. – Getting fired is one thing. Getting fined by the SEC or sent to jail is another. Fortunately neither of us are in a position to have any information on this topic but even casual speculation can be toxic so we don’t do it on the blog.
I am fond of saying that I am just a form waiting to happen. I have no doubt I will break my own rules one day and end up being a problem for HR but Marko and I do try very hard to be fair, interesting and accurate while maintaining an honest and professional character on the day job. If you are in a similar situation and want to try blogging I hope these ideas will help.