Blogging about organizational strategy and even using blogs as a strategy-making device is an increasingly common practice among (not only) young firms. For instance, in a paper* co-authored with Thomas Gegenhuber, we analyze strategy blogging as an open strategy practice that increases transparency of and involvement in strategy making, while at the same time adding to the corporate impression management repertoire.

Consequentially, it comes at no surprise that non-profit organizations such as Creative Commons, which heavily rely on external communities such as different groups of license users, also engage in strategy blogging. Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, started the series of strategy posts with general reflections on sharing, followed by suggestions for the overall mission and role of Creative Commons in his second post:

CC must recognize its various roles in a variety of diverse and active communities. We provide essential infrastructure for the Web, and are vital contributors and leaders in these global movements. The opportunity to realize the benefits of openness will come from showing how “open” is uniquely able to solve the challenges of our time. Our role is not just as providers of tools, but also as strategic partners, advocates, influencers, and supporters to quantify, evangelize, and demonstrate the benefits of open.

Only after announcing that Creative Commons had received a $10 million grant from the The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to implement the new strategy, Merkley identified “three specific areas” that Creative Commons will focus on (emphasis in original:

  1. Discovery is about creating a more vibrant and usable commons, both on the platforms where open content is hosted, and also for those works that are individually hosted on creators’ websites. […] Search, curation, meta-tagging, content analytics, one-click attribution are all examples of areas where improved discovery would support creators that use the commons.  To do this work, CC will need to establish a small developer team.
  2. Collaboration is about helping creators across sectors, disciplines, and geographies, to work together to share open content and create new works. […] To do this work, CC will play an active role in developing and facilitating solutions for cooperation and engagement in communities like OER or open access. […] CC will assign staff to develop partnerships with platforms and creative communities that create and remix content, and help improve the experience of sharing and working in a public commons.
  3. Advocacy is about CC’s vital role in advocacy and policymaking. […] However, the fight for copyright reform is a global one, and will only be won if we activate the power of many interconnected global communities. To do this work, CC will focus on strengthening and supporting the global affiliate network — chapters in over 85 countries comprised of some of the world’s leading experts and advocates in open content and knowledge.

What I really liked in this description of strategic priorities is the rhetorical device of repetition to emphasize how strategy is supposed to be operationalized and implemented, that is, by starting a sentence “To do this work” in the middle of each section. At the end of this post, Merkley asked his readers to weigh in on Creative Commons’ plans:

So tell us: What’s your idea to help CC make the commons more vibrant and usable, and to foster communities of collaboration and gratitude?

The link leads to a page with a video that effectively summarizes Merkley’s strategy blog posts and offers a simple form to state areas of interest and provide suggestions for potential activities (see screenshot below).

Screenshot of Creative Commons strategy survey

Screenshot of Creative Commons strategy survey

As I see it, this approach provides a comparably low threshold for participation. And I hope Creative Commons will provide at least some statistics on the suggestions made.


* the paper is currently under review, a short paper version entitled “Making an Impression with Open Strategy: Transparency and Engagement on Corporate Blogs” has been included in the Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings 2015.