There’s a lot of talk and experimentation regarding social media tools in enterprises. The other day was talking to an IT leader who shared the following story.
He was in a meeting and the discussion made him keenly aware of the need for a wiki.
“We were coordinating an event that included a large number of side meetings. The discussion turned to the need for us to get a single list of all of these side meetings their location description etc. This led to a discussion of the process of how we would solicit the meetings from people and the put the information together into a single list that would be emailed out to everyone.
The result was a simple process, send everything to Betty and she will put together the list, send it to Barney who will review it then send it out in and email. To make all of these information flows happen required the sub meeting organizers to get their information in over a weekend so it could be assembled, reviewed and processed.
As he listened to the call. He wanted to break in and say, the process is too complex for such a simple thing and we were taking a path based on what people wanted to do rather than what others needed to know.
He wanted to say, this is a great problem for a wiki, so why don’t we just create one. Why don’t we make the process as simple as asking the meeting organizers to post their meeting description on the wiki so everyone can see it. Also people can update it as things change rather than requiring people to go through a central control point.
But he did not, because he knew that others would say that it was too complicated. You see, he explained, a wiki or any other collaboration tool for that matter are not integrated into the mainstream of our workflow. They require a separate sign-on that takes you to a list of wiki’s rather than the one wiki you want, the one with the information you need. You see at this company, a wiki is viewed as just another knowledge management tool.
It seemed to him that issues related to aggregating information from multiple people to publish to multiple people are ideal for a wiki. The wiki simplifies the process, have the people with the knowledge put it in a place where everyone can get at it. Different views into the wiki would allow people to see the list without requiring someone to compile the information and reformat it. It can be updated so there was history as well as the most recent version available at all times.
It seems to him that much of the work we do that involves one person assembling information from multiple people to publish to other people. Project status, issue resolutions, meeting logistics, plans, problems all seem that they can be shared via a wiki.”
Now you can say, about time, as wiki’s have been around for a long time. That is true, but many wiki implementations are more often standalone solutions, things you have to log into outside of your normal workflow.
Too many people think of a wiki as another knowledge management tool. Knowledge management tools are something separate from your day to day workflow. That attitude will need to change along with the technology that integrates wiki technology into the workflow in order to have people say ‘put it up on the wiki’ rather than inventing an ad hoc process that takes time, resources and puts bottlenecks in the flow of information.