Sunday, August 24, 2003

Microsoft's Glove Girl?

Okay, first of all, let me explain the reference -- Robert Scoble, undoubtedly one, if not the number one best-known blogger at Microsoft posted this the other day. "Someone asks, "Is Scoble Microsoft's Glove Girl?'"

And who the heck is Glove Girl? Well, she's a character I made up! I was asked to write a fictional case study for Harvard Business Review in this month's issue about blogging. The case study is a feature that appears every month in each issue posing difficult management problems. For instance, there was an interesting case study a few months back about an employee at a software company who was moonlighting doing programming for a game maker on the side. It posed some thorny problems. In each case study, four or so experts comment on the story, suggesting what they would do under the circumstances.

In the piece I wrote, I wanted to create a company with a rogue blogger in its midst. She's an employee of a surgical glove manufacturer. The CEO goes to an industry event, only to be upstaged by one of his own employees -- this blogger known as Glove Girl She has a very popular weblog where she's spilling company secrets about their swell line of surgical gloves. Glove Girl is a very bad girl. She's talking to customers about real inside stuff at her company. She goes public with private info about a deal her company is in the middle of negotiating with a big hospital and says the hospital's high caesarian rate is a scandal. She dresses in sexy cocktail dresses and wears light green surgical gloves to show off her wares. When she writes about her favorite gloves on her weblog, the sales for those gloves go through the roof. When she writes about her lovelife, similar hot traffic results.

Glove Girl is on newstands this coming week. Get a copy of HBR, read my piece and BEFORE you read the savvy comments by David Weinberger, Ray Ozzie, Pamela Samuelsom and Erin Motameni, write your OWN comments on how you would deal with Glove Girl. It's funny, I found all the comments showed more mercy for the difficult blogger than I would have if I were running the place. Glove Girl is big trouble if you ask me.

So to answer the question I started with "Is Scoble Microsoft's Glove Girl?" I say, not at all. His blog is informative, honest, reasonable, circumspect, measured and may be the best thing to happen at Microsoft in a long long time. He's got a conversation going with the world that Microsoft itself can't seem to pull off.