E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

The Truth about Enterprise Wikis

Here is a weblog worth while subscribing to that you may not have seen before: The WorkPlace Blog. Here is a fragment of what the main topics are from that weblog itself: “[…] The blog covers news, trends, commentary, events and emerging technologies that are affecting the enterprise workplace […]“. Interesting weblog, indeed ! In it you would be able to find little gems like the one I bumped into a couple of days ago and which I thought would be worth while commenting on: The Truth about Enterprise Wikis and that clearly puts together why wikis, like most social software available out there, may not be suitable for all businesses. And here is why:

  • Reluctance to collaborate: Indeed, I certainly agree with that statement. Not everyone is keen on collaborating with others. There would be some knowledge workers out there who would feel rather comfortable in their own silos than going out there and collaborate with others. And while that may be a valid point, which I doubt, I am wondering how much that would be sustainable. Right now the buzzword is collaboration (Get out there and share with others) thus if there are people out there who are not willing to collaborate how long would they be able to sustain the situation? The way I see it is that if a knowledge worker would want to survive I doubt he / she would be able to do that by not collaborating with others. At least, not in the current business environment. But, still it would be a factor to consider if you are planning to deploy widely different collaborative tools, like a wiki, for instance.
  • Trust: Yes, this is something that everyone who has been exposed to a Wiki would agree with that it is a key element for the success of not only that tool but most of the social media available out there. I have widely weblogged about this particular topic several times in the past and I still think that it is actually the tipping point that would eventually differentiate a labour-based company from asset/knowledge based company. Knowledge workers in order to survive in the current business world would need to learn rather quick how they can trust one another, how they can build their trust skills with others in such a way that collaboration would be considered a natural and a business as usual process within the business. Wikis can certainly help out in here. Certainly, it would take a bit of time at the beginning but knowledge workers who persevere would be the ones that would benefit the most not only because of their trust levels with others getting stronger but because they would also act as catalysts for others to join them in that same effort. People need to collaborate, they need to trust, so they might as well start somewhere.
  • Critical Mass: This may not be rocket science for anyone reading this weblog, I am sure, but there is no denying that The Workplace Blog has got a point. Specially with social software having a critical mass becomes really important for the survival of the application, in this case a wiki. Why? Well, because if there is anything to be said about social software is the fact that it is all about the people, thus if you do not have the people you do not have anything! That is the main reason why at the early stages of deploying a social media application it is always a good thing to have a technical facilitator or a group of technical facilitators that could guide the rest of the knowledge workers in finding their way(s) to interact with the tools, i.e. a wiki, at hand. Knowing that you have got the opportunity to consult with someone on your experience while adopting new tools is perhaps the easiest way to overcome the learning curve hurdle. Then once knowledge workers are comfortable with making use of those tools they can become self-sufficient and those technical facilitators could move into whatever the next task may be.
  • Start small: Like in the adoption of any critical application within the workplace it is always, indeed, a good thing to start small. Knowledge workers have got a tendency to get overwhelmed by an enterprise-wide adoption of whatever the tool, not just wikis, so it would always be advantageous to actually start with perhaps a pilot or two with a relatively small audience so that people are encouraged to participate in an environment where they can share information and knowledge with their somewhat reduced trusted network in such a way that they can then prepare the way at a later time if the pilot has been successful.

    This would actually serve a couple of different points: first, people would be keener on sharing knowledge and information in an environment where they feel they have got something to contribute and, secondly, once you have finished with that pilot and may be ready for an Enterprise-wide adoption that same group of knowledge workers could actually become that critical mass that could advocate for the further adoption of the tool within the workplace.

Thus, as you may have been able to see there are a number of different items that knowledge workers would need to work on further while preparing the adoption of whatever the social software offering, because I feel that the concerns mentioned over at The Truth about Enterprise Wikis are not just restricted to wikis but to every piece of social software that knowledge workers may get exposed to. The good thing is that with the right motivation, commitment, trust and involvement to make it work those hurdles are more likely to disappear. And for good.

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