What more can be said about Forrester's new blog policy restricting personally-branded blogs? Josh Bernoff has commented on the policy here, and discussions so numerous I could not possibly aggregate them here have also followed. Two of my favorites have been Shel's thoughts and a recent article from CNET. I for one am inclined to not be so hard on Forrester, but in the end controlling employee blogs is perhaps the wrong decision.The libertarian in me gets fired up when so many outsiders want to tell Forrester how to run their business. I believe a company has every right to try and protect its brand and overall reputation. I recall the uneasy feeling I experienced when I read that two high profile Forrester employees were now working together at a new agency. Ouch. What employer would not be uncomfortable having two former stars working together and competing with you (however indirect we want to argue that competition is). While I am sure Forrester benefited from the personal branding efforts, I believe the company has every right to ask whether or not they received full benefit. After all, Forrester signed the paychecks and absorbed the costs while these personal branding efforts were taking place. The employer has every right to maximize value. Perhaps those balancing on the fence as employee-bloggers should pay the most attention. Is this case really about how far we can push our rights to build a personal brand while collecting a paycheck from an organization that wants to protect its brands and overall reputation? No matter how much we admire people like Rubel or Scoble, their status makes them outliers and we all cannot command the same premium even if we are exceptionally good at our job. We have less room to maneuver as we balance the competing interests (please note, I am not say we have no room). But when all is said and done, I think Shel has made the correct call. The benefits of extended reach through blogs and podcasts makes the most sense. Did Forrester do their cost-benefit analysis? Even though I am personally uncomfortable seeing Forrester employees jumping ship as they did, we see this sort of behavior everyday. How many professors move to higher ranked universities after building an impressive and personal research record? How many bankers switch to a higher status investment bank after a few very lucrative deals? How many car salesman switch to a brand with higher margins after demonstrating their ability to move product out the door? Talent is more mobile, and companies must respond accordingly. Companies need to work on retaining talented people, and Forrester has lost two extremely good ones. Perhaps for Forrester (I can only speculate; no inside information) it feels as though these personal brands were being built a little too publicly and (in the end) a little too much at the employer's expense. I certainly would feel some of that if I were in Forrester's shoes. But I do think this case can teach us something. At some point does our personal brand perhaps comes a bit too close to our employer's brand? It never makes good sense to potentially put yourself in direct competition with the company writing you a check every month. We must keep a prudent distance and not call into question our motives. As PR folks, we should understand extremely well that pushing boundaries can sometimes evoke a reaction to regulate and restrict (e.g., government relations). And the employer? Avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. As Shel reminds us, understand the actual processes by which these consultants create value. You must feed that process wisely. And if you want to hire big name consultants who can sell reports costing thousands of dollars, then think about Michael Porter and the consultant's power to say yes or not to you. Forrester has every right to run its business as it sees fit, and consultants are free to say yes or no. Every decision has benefits and costs, in this context. The cost of Forrester's decision might be those larger conversations and outreach which are so difficult to measure and put your hands on, yet are essential to building trust and eventually getting people to write huge checks for a piece of paper with your words on it. Recognizing that portions if not large amounts of these reports end up on the Internet anyway, I would think the business owners should maximize the opportunity to build relationships and trust….and quickly sell as many of these reports as possible before we get the content for free. But then again, just because the content is scattered over numerous blogs and podcasts does not mean that people will actually go gather it or use it. "Can" and "do" are two very different things. Round and round we go…. In the end I feel for Forrester, but that is about as far as I can go. Drucker teaches us that our job is to create customers, and I suspect Forrester's blog policy will make the consultant's job more difficult.