Sunday, 27 February 2011

Social Networking

I saw a post on social networking that raised important governance issues. Unfortunately it was a weak article, which is why I am not referencing it. But this subject goes beyond social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It also relates to use of discussion boads and forums. These are important platforms on which company employees can get advice and ideas that may be useful, even important to the company. The board must have policies in place. Access must not be denied because these media are important and because employees will disobey strict denial that seems to make no sense. Employees in modern businesses cannot be given orders without reasons: they expect to be persuaded not dictated to; but boundaries have to be set. The employees who may get inspiration that feeds into future products also have to know what they must not discuss. What company processes and developments are so confidential that they must not be disclosed even if discussion with outsiders might lead to their improvement? And who can they go to within the company to put forward a case for discussion with outsiders and under what terms can this be regulated? If people are given boundaries but also trust then valuable resources can be used effectively.

There are always risks from hackers, from trojans and viruses whenever company employees use the world wide web. Companies need sensible policies, clearly communicated to say what can be used and in what way and with what precautions and what cannot be done under any circumstances.

We live in a world where ideas are freely exchanged and where businesses customarily develop products in partnerships. These issues have to be considered.

What are the boundaries also on personal postings? When can a frivolous interchange become bullying and what are the sanctions? Are these policies in place and have they been clearly communicated?

These too are issues that need to be considered at board level.

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