Ryan Armstrong
Change management. Learning. Maps.

What am I doing here? Reflecting on a personal blog strategy

19 June 2019

A recurring theme in successful bloggers is that you should get some enjoyment out of it or you probably won’t last long. I have enjoyed blogging in the past, but have consistently failed at getting things on my personal webpage. It’s not for lack of trying: right now I have 110 entries sitting in Evernote in the Notebook “to blog”.

So, below is a kind of strategic visioning exercise to make the goals of this space explicit in the hopes it will be clarifying to me as I am now and to my future self reading this, but also potentially to others considering starting their own blog or considering engaging more with social media.

How I came up with my list:

  1. I read Carrigan’s Social Media for Academics. I have a soft spot for Carrigan because I know from years reading him and his Ph.D. supervisor that our philosophical positions are roughly aligned (or at least, that I would like to think that they are).

  2. I read a bunch of How to write blog posts that were about increasing traffic or driving sales and decided I had something else in mind. Ditto for it making me a better writer, though I suppose it might. Probably won’t hurt. I also become incredibly lazy as soon as I think of setting out to blog some “20 ways to be a badass” type list. I hope that a similar list emerges from this project someday, but that is not one of the key goals.

  3. I read a bunch of other blogs that seemed to more closely align with my vision of blog, notably https://markcarrigan.net but especially https://jarche.com/, who writes candidly about being a freelancer consulting on organizational learning and the future of work.

  4. I created a cognitive map, my absolute favorite way to figure things out in a complex world.


Takeaways: My goals in blogging:

My goals with returning to blogging (returning, because I used to have a blog called Spain, Of Course! when I first moved to Spain over a decade ago about the things I found funny as a Oklahoman living in Madrid).

Engaging with my community more consistently during the research process

This includes moving a good portion of my research journal online in the ways listed here. I really had to think about how this goal linked to promoting organizational harmony. I think it’s about staying in the flow of things, about not getting sidetracked by the zillion related projects that can come up, and thereby relates to better research and more learning.

Providing a space where people can learn (a lot) about me

I find myself thinking “Man, I wish I could refer this person to my writings on X” more often than is probably normal or healthy and it likely reflects a deep seated character flaw.

Learning about myself and what I think: blogging as constituting

Again, gleaned from Carrigan’s book. The idea that we can learn by making our ideas explicit is one I have written about before and I called it actualization but now (Eden and Ackermann call the object that can serve this purpose as a transitional object).

Increasing research transparency and leaving an audit trail: having the whole story

I have been frustrated many, many times by lack of transparency in my field. It was one of the driving factors behind writing my critique of the Balanced Scorecard. Kaplan and Norton wrote about it as if their interventions just ‘fell into place’. I hope that this can be a place for details, then.

Promoting organizational harmony

That’s my BFHG, as they say.

One I thought of after creating the map: Creating personal accountability

By writing this blog post, it’s possible that someone will read it now, check back in a year, and be disappointed to see I haven’t followed through. I want to avoid that (imagined) person’s disappointment, and so this post and blog has just become an accountability generating tool.

I hope it works.