27 October 2008

Wiki or Email?

One of the keys to implementing Enterprise 2.0 tools is to select the correct solution to each problem. From a strategic perspective this means reviewing a knowledge or process audit and searching for the appropriate tools to fill each niche.

In the real world though, its a lot more messy and one organic way to migrate people from the old trusted tools like email is to identify new opportunities as they pop up and encourage people to try using a different tool to do the job. These little pilots can grow and start to touch each other in the same way that outlying towns become suburbs in urban growth.

Stewart Mader recently reported on John Tropea's blog post about using a wiki instead of email for a small project. The original post is here and describes the use of a wiki for a small project that started as an email to all stakeholders.

Of note is that John tried to use comments as a way to get conversation (not just information gathering) happening in context on each wiki page. I agree comments are important and so are the page watches that ensure you get emailed whenever somebody else updates a page you are watching.

At Daniels we have taken this one step further. Not only do we still look for these opportunities to move things onto the wiki (we are doing this in both the Finance and Compliance departments right now) but in the IT department - where the wiki started -I worked hard to encourage a culture where people went to the wiki first to create new content or spaces where content could be gathered. This has taken some time, but 12 months down the track, new pages are being created all the time and even the new guys on the team are saying "I'll put it on the wiki and email you the link" just weeks after starting with us.

Email is still a very important tool for the company and the executive team still never touch the wiki, preferring phone calls and emails, but the culture is spreading. People all over are starting to see the benefits of public documentation that a wiki provides and this is being reflected by users now approaching any person in the IT team with their problems because they know the background info is equally available to any of us. Even people like me who haven't been involved in IT support for years. "Man! Are you psychic? I only spoke to James yesterday!"

Not psychic. Just collaborating with a wiki.

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