Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This week in links - week 5, 2009

"Wikipedia as an inspiration for internal use of wikis" by Lars Plougmann

The proposed change to the Wikipedia moderation model is akin to allowing 'trusted' editors to continue with the ex-post moderation model while imposing stricter control for people who are not signed in or just created their account. (How, and if, Wikipedia may implement flagged revisions is still being discussed.) 

In an organisation employees are, by default, trusted. They have been approved as part of their recruitment, they are given access to buildings and logins to systems, they are trusted to do work and make decisions, handle confidential information etc. Many are trusted to advise the clients of the organisation. In light of this, the proposed changes for the Wikipedia moderation policy have no impact on the parallels we like to draw.

Comment: Wikipedia can for sure be used as an inspiration when discussing how internal corporate wikis can be used. But the problems of vandalism that Wikipedia is facing are not likely to occur in internal corporate wikis. As one of my favourite quotes about internal wikis says: "There are plenty of ways to commit career suicide; wikis are just the newest one." (from article in NYT about US State Deparments "Diplopedia"). Hence, there is no need to even think about adding a moderation model like the one Wikipedia is considering for a corporate wiki. Just forget about it. Trust your employees. 

"SharePoint governance & intranet ownership (MOSS 2007)" by Toby Ward:

Imagine a platoon without a lieutenant, your HR department with no head, or your public website without an owner. All might might survive for a few weeks, maybe a year or two, perhaps, but all would die a slow death until someone put it out of its misery.

Politics and the issues of control, ownership and standards go hand-in-hand with intranet management and perhaps these issues more than any other have driven the requirement for defining governance models. Sadly, very few organizations actually have a well-defined governance model, and many of those have spent hundreds-of-thousands to millions of dollars on their intranet – amounting to extraordinary investments left to chance and execution on a whim.

According to the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey only 47% of organizations have a defined governance model (of which 32% have 6,000 employees or more; 11% have 30,000 employees or more). Of the tools and platforms being used by survey participants, a whopping 47% are using SharePoint (MOSS 2007) in some shape or form.

Comment: Deciding not to have approval workflow in an internal information system (such as a wiki) is not the same as saying that you should not have a governance model. 

"Social Software Adoption: Why Law Firms Get It Wrong (and How to Get It Right)" by Michael Idinopulos:

Social software can deliver 3 main patterns of use and value to firms:

  • At the most abstract level, there is general legal know-how: how to be an effective lawyer, how to serve clients, etc.
  • At a mid-level of abstraction, there is practice-specific legal know-how: deal templates, legal opinions and perspectives, standard processes for due diligence, strategic perspectives on client industries and/or functional topics
  • At the most concrete level, there is client-specific collaboration: collaborating within legal teams (internally, with clients, or with co-counsel) on specific projects and deliverables.

Most law firms introduce social software beginning with general legal know-how. The first decision-makers in a firm to "get religion" on social software are usually in firm-wide knowledge roles: CKOs, directors of know-how. They pursue general legal know-how because that's their organizational jurisdiction. 

From an adoption standpoint, however, general know-how is usually a bad place to startLawyers are incredibly busy, and general know-how lies squarely above-the-flow of their daily work. Because lawyers lack incentives to contribute their knowledge to the rest of the firm, invitations to participate in social software implementations are often greeted with a polite "Thanks but no thanks." 

A more effective place to introduce social software into law firms is at the most concrete level, with client-specific collaboration.

Comment: I believe this is very true for most businesses and not only for law firms. You should start with the business use cases which are closest to the users and where you can achieve very tangible and immediate benefits. If we take the wiki example again - start implementing wikis for business use cases that are in-the-flow. Do not start with corporate wiki with general knowledge and information.

"Start networking right away" by Janus Boye:

A Harvard Business Review article by William C. Byham from the January 2009 edition strongly encourages readers to Start Networking Right Away (Even If You Hate It). To quote:

"Networking is the best way to acquire crucial information"

The article is a short worthwhile read, written mainly for networking internally in an organisation. Still, the three suggested immediate actions applies equally well to networking externally.

Here’s what Byhan suggests you do right away:

  • Figure out who should be in your network
  • Dare to introduce yourself
  • Remember that networking is not a one-way street 

Comment: It should not come as a surprise to anyone that informal networks are becoming increasingly valuable when it comes to obtaining relevant information and knowledge in order to quickly serve information needs. What is surprising is to me is that so few still seem to understand that corporate social networking solutions can be used to amplify the value we get from our informal networks.


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