4 myths of the Enterprise wiki

An article from 2009 gives us 3 reasons why wikis are not the easy route to KM that many believe. I have added a fourth

This comes from an article in pcworld based on a interview with Danish Analyst Dorthe Jespersen. Dorthe’s believes that the organisational culture can be a real barrier to the adoption of wikis, and the idea that wikis will allow knowledge to spontaneoulsy emerge, as on Wikipedia, is unfounded.

Her three myths are as follows

 Myth One: Wikis will motivate employees to contribute content. 
 Jespersen describes the “Empty wiki syndrome,” or when a wiki is deployed without a clear purpose or is too general in its focus, resulting in a site with almost no activity. It helps, said Jespersen, to appoint someone to manage the wiki, ensure there is structure like guidelines and a basic information architecture, and that it is launched with content already posted because “it’s very hard to just react to this empty space for the user.”

 Myth Two: Employees know how to contribute. 
 The concept of a wiki may be simple, but contributing content is not necessarily logical for casual users. Jespersen said some organizations prefer to refer to existing written policies around content creation that say, for instance, employees are responsible for the content they produce. But policies can be tricky considering the goal is to strike a balance between governance and structure and flexibility. Some wiki-specific policies might include guidelines around creating pages that are easy to read by having a table of contents if the page is long, or having a naming system for links to ensure consistency. 


 Myth Three: Wikis will always provide the information employees need. 
 Although searchability is often a selling point of wikis, Jespersen said the reality is wikis are difficult to search through, unlike a content management system. Given there is little structure built into wikis, “it is difficult to structure this information to make it findable the next day even.” Content on a wiki can grow faster than the organization can keep up, she said, therefore the wiki managers must perform regular searches and quality checks of the content. Overall, Jespersen suggested starting with a pilot so that the true purpose and scope of the wiki can be first ascertained before an enterprise-wide launch.

Underlying all of this is a fourth myth, which is still prevalent, and which I feel should be added to the list:

Myth Four: Wikipedia is a good model for in-house Wikis

Wikipedia is the archetypal bottom-up Wiki, drawing on the wisdom of the crowds, and is often taken as a model of bottom-up voluntary free-form knowledge sharing. However it is a poor model, for several reasons:

  1. Wikipedia is successful because it draws on a huge crowd – the population of the globe. even though the percetnage of Wiki contributors compared to teh global population is tiny, that doesnt matter because the global population is so large. A similat tiny percentage in an organisation would mean that a very small number of contributors provided the bulk of the content.
  2. That tiny percentage of Wikipedia contributors is a skewed population.  Wikipedia contributors are 80-90% male, more than 65 percent single, more than 85 percent without children, around 70 percent under the age of 30. This is the wisdomn of a subset of the crowd. You do not want this skewed viewpoint in an organisation. 
  3.  Editing wikipedia is not a case of “everyone writes what they like”. There is usually editorial overview or moderation of most pages other then the fairly niche ones. A similar form of editorial oversight is needed in organisations as well.
  4. If you want more advice, see NASA’s 6 wiki rules
  5. This video….

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How Deloitte revisit and refine their KM strategy

This video, hosted by SearchContentManagement.com, is a talk given by Rosemary Amato, the Deloitte program director for global client intelligence, during KM World 2011 during which she describes how Deloitte keeps its KM strategy current.

Deloitte surveys their staff to test how people use knowledge, share knowledge and collaborate. Based on the responses, they can make changes to their KM strategy. The interesting thing here is the way they focus on needs of the users.

As Amato says

“We want to understand the people using our knowledge assets; what they want and how they want to work. The end user needs to value how knowledge can serve them, and without this no KM department can succeed. They need to know what knowledge they need, who to call, where to look for it and how to search for it, and most importantly they get an answer that solves their need.”

She also talks about how knowledge sharing is embedded in the way people work, including the need to capture knowledge from departing experts. She describes how one expert worked one on one with younger consultants for 6 months, to share and capture his knowledge.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The NATO lesson learned portal

The video below is a neat introduction to the concept behind the new Lesson Learned Portal at NATO

The video is publically available on the Youtube channel of JALLC, the joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre at NATO

The Youtube description is as follows:

The NATO Lessons Learned Portal is the Alliance’s centralized hub for all things related to Lessons learned. It is managed and maintained by the JALLC, acting as NATO’s leading agent for Lessons Learned. 

Observations and Best Practices that may lead to Lessons to be Learned can be submitted to the Portal, and the JALC will ensure that these Observations find their way through the NATO Lessons Learned Process. 

The information shared on the NATO Lessons Learned Portal can help saving lives. The little piece of information you have, may be the fragment missing to understand the bigger problem/solution – make sure you share it.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Sharing knowledge by video – – a firefighting example

The US Wildfire community is an area where Knowledge Management and Lesson Learning has been eagerly embraced, including the use of video.

The need for Knowledge Management and Lesson Learning is most obvious where the consequences of not learning are most extreme. Fire-fighting is a prime example of this – the consequences of failing to learn can be fatal, and  fire fighters were early adopters of KM. This includes the people who fight the ever-increasing numbers of grass fires and forest fires, known as Wildland fires.

The history of lesson learning in the Wildfire community is shown in the video below, including the decision after a major tragedy in 1994 to set up a lesson learned centre to cover wildfire response across the whole of the USA.

The increase in wildland fires in the 21st century made it obvious to all concerned that the fire services needed to learn quickly, and the Wildland Lessons Learned center began to introduce a number of activities, such as the introduction of After Action reviews, and collecting lessons from across the whole of the USA. A national wildfire “corporate university” is planned, of which the Lesson Learned center will form a part.

The wildfire lessons center can be found here, and this website includes lesson learned reports from various fires, online discussions, a blog (careful – some of the pictures of chainsaw incidents are a bit gruesome), a podcast, a set of resources such as recent advances in fire practice, a searchable incident database, a directory of members, and the ability to share individual lessons quickly. This is a real online community of practice.

Many of the lessons collected from fires are available as short videos published on the Wildland Lessons Center youtube channel and available to firefighters on handheld devices. An example lesson video is shown below, sharing lessons from a particular fire, and speaking directly to the firefighter, asking them to imagine themselves in a particular situation. See this example below from the “close call” deployment of a fire shelter during the Ahorn fire in 2011, which includes material recorded from people actually caught up in the situation.

Sometimes lessons can be drawn from multiple incidents, and combined into guidance. Chainsaw refueling operations are a continual risk during tree felling to manage forest fires, as chainsaw fuel tanks can become pressurised, spraying the operator with gasoline when the tank is opened (the last thing you want in the middle of a fire). Lessons from these incidents have been combined into the instructional video below.

This video library is a powerful resource, with a very serious aim – to save lives in future US Wildland fires. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Case study video – CoPs at Homeland Security

Here is an interesting video by Jose Vazquez on the use of Communities of Practice for First Responders at Homeland Security in the USA.

First Responder Communities of Practice is a professional networking, collaboration and communication platform created by the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate to support improved collaboration and information sharing amongst the nation’s First Responders. The technology platform includes

  • Discussion forums
  • Calendar
  • Document libraries
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • User profiles

You can see screenshots of the community technology on the video

At the time this video was recoreded, the Community was about 600 people, working through 27 sub communities covering the major disciplines of First Response. However a visit to the communities index today shows 213 communities, many of them with only a handful of members.

View Original Source Here.

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