Amy Gahran just keeps churning out great stuff. Here are her thoughts on what's holding business blogs back; she calls it Conversational Agoraphobia.
In my experience -- and I'd be curious to hear yours -- business people generally get scared by the fact that blogs are so public.
...That is, they're less worried about hearing criticism per se, and very worried that anyone might hear them being criticized. That is, the public nature of blogs fills them with a heightened -- and often irrational -- sense of vulnerability.
Her solution has some promise, I think:
One of the most successful treatments for ordinary agoraphobia is graduated exposure therapy: slowly and incrementally increasing a someone's exposure to a feared situation.
That gets me thinking... Maybe for companies or individuals who fear public conversation so much that they must control any part of it in which they participate, it might be helpful to find ways to gradually introduce them to conversational media -- BEFORE they actually launch their own blog. Teach them how to follow and join, in small ways at first, ongoing conversations in blogs, forums, e-mail lists, and other conversational media channels.
Steve Mays has told people that if they're not ready to climb to the top of the diving platform and do a cannonball into the pool, they're probably not ready to blog. He says it's not a good idea to dip a toe into the water down in the shallow end. Does that conflict with what Amy says? Not necessarily. I think Amy's suggesting, like Steve, that someone shouldn't start blogging until they're ready. Dipping a toe in the water is okay -- as long as you don't do it for the world on your live blog.