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Sticking to your rules in web 2.0

June 23, 2008

This week, I experienced a moment of intrigue as a consumer. While at an airport, armed with my own travel mug, I was trying to get a cup of coffee. The person selling coffee at the coffee shop would not pour the coffee into my mug. “I have to use one of our cups,” she explained.

“Company rules.”

When it happened, I Twittered about it. Because it shocked me that I couldn’t get what I wanted when it would clearly not cost the company anything. On twitter I asked if having “company rules” in a web 2.0 era was smart.

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.

Image via Wikipedia

These days, people can discuss company rules in a number of different places, almost immediately. And if the company rule is an absurd one, then it has the potential to be magnified to an absurd level. Ask Dell.

One thing that Web 2.0, or social media will certainly bring is an end to ‘company rules’ that on the surface are inexplicable. It won’t happen overnight. But the place in the Buffalo Airport that has a ‘company rule’ about letting people use their own cups should be on notice. If a well-read blogger experiences the “we have to use our cup” rule, it could turn into news. This kind of idiocy will end for the simple reason that more and more people will talk about it.

So think about your company, and any of the ‘rules’ that you think are dumb. But don’t stop there: think about the rules that might seem smart. Then ask yourself, if people could talk about your rules, would they talk nicely about them?

Because people like to share things that are dumb.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2008 6:11 pm

    Hi Matt,
    Good post, although I think some “rules” are likely always around, web 2 or not.

    However, think its also fair to note that while we took our lumps, as you point out in the link, we learned and grew as a result. Today, we are very much a part of the conversation. That conversation means we listen, learn and make changes so we are a better business, but there are still “rules” so to speak. :-)

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