Ever notice that great people always seem to keep diaries? John Quincy Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wilberforce – heck, even James T. Kirk had his “captain’s log.” The list goes on and on. Personally, i don’t think it is the case that great people keep diaries. Rather, i think that keeping diaries helped to make these people great. There’s nothing magical about a diary, of course. But there is something (almost) magical about writing down your thoughts on a daily basis. Here’s my take on why it works:

  • Outside perspective on myself – A diary allows you to look at situations more objectively. Once i have written about a situation or a thought, i can then observe it from the outside, which provides different perspective.
  • Historical learning – Reading back through a daily diary is like reading your own personal history. And learning from history is the best way to predict or plan for the future.
  • Lets other people learn from and about me – If i dare to share my personal diary, other people can learn from and about my experiences. They know who i am and what i’m about, and if they are friends, they can then help me out more effectively.

Blogs, Twitter, and of course BigTreetop.com are a new form of the old diary. They provide some of the old benefits of the paper and pen diary with the added benefit that they can be read instantly by anyone with a computer or a cell phone or some other device like a chumby.

For the organizations who are starting to use BigTreetop.com this week, its value really peaks when you treat the experience posting feature (on the left side of every treetop) like a public diary for your organization. Try to get a core of your managers and employees to take 5 minutes to Post at least one thought about your organization per day. These might include:

  • A feeling you have about your business
  • A favorite product or service that you use personally
  • A story about one of your customers or employees (even better if you post an accompanying photo!)
  • An introduction to and photo of a new employee
  • An organizational event you’re looking forward to
  • A community event you’ve attended
  • Interesting news about your organization or industry

Over time, this “diary” will help your organization by allowing it to think collectively about itself, to have an informal history over time, and it will allow your customers and partners to get beyond the advertising pitches to really know what you are about.

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