Enterprise 2.0 IT governance: Whole Foods bans execs from blogs and chat

Enterprise 2.0 and IT governance have just kissed and jumped.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

Enterprise 2.0 and IT governance have just kissed and jumped.

In a Nov. 2 update to its corporate Code of Business Conduct, Whole Foods has banned executives from participating in non-company blogs and chat rooms, except in connection with absolutely personal topics. Clearly, this is an extreme response to CEO John McKay's anonymous, negative chat room postings about competitor Wild Oats Markets, which led to an SEC investigation.

From the Whole Foods Code of Business Conduct:

Online Forums To avoid the actual and perceived improper use of Company information, and to avoid any impression that statements are being made on behalf of the Company, unless approved by the Nominating and Governance Committee, no member of Company Leadership (as defined below) may make any posting to any non-Company-sponsored internet chat room, message board, web log (blog), or similar forum, concerning any matter involving the Company, its competitors or vendors, either under their name, anonymously, under a screen name, or communicating through another person. Violation of this policy will be grounds for dismissal. For purposes of this paragraph, “Company Leadership” includes each Company director, Executive Team member, Global Vice President, Regional President and Regional Vice President.

From this point forward, the whole notion of IT governance, including how we define IT failure, has become more complex. In the past, IT failure analysis primarily dealt with relatively straightforward concepts such as completing projects on time and within budget. Now, IT governance needs to consider far more difficult issues, such as overseeing users who deliberately remove themselves from the yoke of IT control. Not an easy task to accomplish.

In many ways, Enterprise 2.0 software is following the path already blazed by personal computing hardware. Personal computers diffused through the market back in the seventies and eighties, replacing legions of mainframes and mini-computers. This change empowered users and small company departments to purchase their own cheap machines, without the knowledge or approval of the IT "priesthood." While painful for IT , this diffusion of technology wrought the personal computer revolution.

Enterprise 2.0 software places tremendous software and communications power into the hands of distributed users, who cannot easily be controlled by centralized IT policies. As Enterprise 2.0 tools evolve, IT governance and our notions of project failure must evolve as well.

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