Using collective intelligence and the wiki to improve how you work, as you work

Stewart Mader outlines wiki uses in “continuous organizational (team work/knowledge work/innovation work etc.) improvement”:

the wiki can help any group work better by adapting to how they work, and letting them see where they’re strong and weak. Because it doesn’t define the terms of interaction and collaboration from the outset, and allows structure to be created, modified and removed as needed, the wiki quickly becomes a desirable tool because it “learns” how people work as they work, not after the fact.

He’s just right, now I’ll try to elaborate:

One could argue that wikis offer space for emergence, i.e. organizational self-organization.

And one could further add that they are ideally suited to support complex adaptive systems (CAS), and that their inherent capacity for connectivity is fine too.

But all this sounds much too theoretical, and well, we’re running real enterprises – no fluffy complex organizational systems stuff – don’t we?

But theory can be useful sometimes, so calling on the theoretical background of complex systems and systems thinking is a good idea. And when we accept that organizations can be modelled and understood as a complex adaptive system, employing social software concepts and tools feels just right, exactly because they can deal with this complexity …

Is SharePoint Scalable?

Mauro Cardarelli asks the right question, i.e. whether organizations are ready for collaboration software. He puts it like this:

I ask “Is SharePoint scalable [in this organization]?” That is, can this company set the proper governance policies and business process changes to maximize its SharePoint investment to take advantage

Well, on the one hand this is true, but do we always need to fiddle with business processes? Software should be freeform and adaptable to a variety of organizational settings, and social software in the enterprise starts with this premise. In fact I would argue that one huge advantage of e.g. wikis in the workplace is that they can adapt to a multitude of settings …

But his requirements (and best practices) for implementation projects are good:

It starts with building the right advisory team and setting the proper procedures (in writing) that define the guidelines for all users to maximize their experience as consumers AND contributors of corporate content. With that, SharePoint scales… throughout the organization… into your partner/client community… and out into the internet world.

No arguing with this, especially the right staffing of an advisory team (and perhaps also employing external specialist consultants like me, hint hint …) is important.

Diplomarbeit zu Tagging

Via Peruns Weblog: Eine Diplomarbeit zum Thema Tagging, geschrieben von Sascha A. Carlin.

Hier ein Zitat aus dem Fazit der Arbeit:

Die Forschung an Tagging und Folksonomy steht noch am Anfang. Doch die bereits publizierten Arbeiten lassen darauf schließen, dass Tagging durchaus noch längere Zeit ein interessantes Thema bleiben wird. Tagging kann und sollte klassische Indexierungsverfahren und Klassifikationen weder ersetzen noch ablösen. Es ist als Komplement zu den bestehenden Volltextsuchmaschinen auf der einen und strikt reglementierten Katalogen auf der anderen Seite zu sehen.

Interessant ist Tagging bzw. Folksonomies bspw. für das Wissens- und Innovationsmanagement, u.a. weil die Entdeckung von Mustern, Zusammenhängen und Trends durch die Visualisierung von Folksonomies (Tag Clouds etc.) erleichtert wird.

Does Best Practice exist?

Here comes the question that lies behind many discussions I’ve had in the last days (e.g. here) …

I have started to think about what is best practice in a complex system – can it exist? In complex systems every situation is unique. Whilst practitioners closest to the problem will find a way of solving it, does that mean that the solution to this problem can be adequately codified and be laid over a totally different situation and applied in another context? Chances are that in a small team setting you might get away with this and build models to assist in finding the best solution. But as the number of people involved, and the problems to be solved increase, you will quickly move into new territory with a different frame of reference and set of contexts – so would one “best practice” work?

Hardly, yet best practices are important, which can be used when situations, tasks and (underlying) patterns are similar. Of course best practices shouldn’t be carved in stone but be open to adaptation and tweaking – it’s a start when we don’t understand them as “products” but as processes.

In regard of Enterprise 2.0 for complex organizational systems this makes it clear, that one advantage of light-weight and freeform enterprise social software systems is that they can be constantly improved and refined, whereas (customized) packaged software can’t be tweaked and optimized this way. This follows open-source concepts such as “release early and often” or “fail fast” and puts them to use in enterprise software projects.

This calls for a small start, that is expanded constantly with new services, from which one can quickly learn from user feedback …

IDC on Enterprise 2.0

Bill Ives points to two IDC papers on Enterprise 2.0. They’re funded by Serendipity, a software company, but anyway, it’s interesting stuff, if only because IDC papers get wide circulation and have credibility.

One is called “Getting Results by Empowering the Information Worker: What Web 2.0 Offers Beyond Blogs and Wikis” and is basically a brief and nicely laid out executive summary … you’ve got to register, but the papers are free.

Here’s the introduction for a start:

Like a symphony conductor presiding over an orchestra, enterprise workers complete their daily tasks by processing many pieces of diverse information, and then combining them in a meaningful way. This “orchestration of data” is becoming increasingly difficult, as organizations store more and more data (for performance analysis, compliance, and so on). Furthermore, each type of data is stored, managed, and viewed through a different application, each with its own login, password, and user interface. Consequently, employees spend more time searching, accessing, retrieving, and then using the information to do their jobs. New applications purport to streamline this process, but are usually deployed in business silos, with little or no coordination between business teams. Workers must still access multiple applications to complete a task. The burden on the enterprise information worker intensifies while productivity suffers.

Furthermore, information workers also rely on information stored outside the enterprise network. As business processes become more dependent on real-time feedback, the amalgamation of enterprise business data with publicly available data, in a meaningful and contextual manner, is becoming m ore im portant… and difficult.

Useless Information

An Accenture survey has interesting key findings:

Managers spend up to two hours a day searching for information, and more than 50 percent of the information they obtain has no value to them. In addition, only half of all managers believe their companies do a good job in governing information distribution or have established adequate processes to determine what data each part of an organization needs.

Kommunikation und Produktivität

Via Thomas N. Burg c/o randgänge, ein weiterer Grund warum Social Software in the Enterprise ein Thema für mehr Organisationen sein sollte, die 3/2 rule of employee productivity:

The more employees your company has, the less productive each of these employees are. It is a generalization, of course, but a useful one and one that is confirmed by most people who have worked for growing organizations. As the company grows, so does the internal processes and the layers of bureaucracy, and the time spent on communications grows rapidly.

Das ist natürlich radikal vereinfacht, für Organisationstheoretiker keine Neuigkeit, die Ergebnisse sind nicht über alle Größenklassen von Unternehmen verallgemeinerbar etc. Gleichzeitig ist es aber auch ein guter Grund Zusammenarbeit und Kommunikation besser zu unterstützen …