Just finished listening to an interview with Peter Evans-Greenwood from Capgemini on Des Walsh’s Social Media Show.
Peter talked about a plain and simple bottom-up innovation by workers on a Toyota production line.
When an item came down the line they had to grab various parts, but they sometimes did not grab them all or the right ones. They went to the shop and bought some coloured bins…now when an item comes down the line, they go to the corresponding bin which will have all the parts for that item. [UPDATE 15/04/08: read this in the blog post, Change Me]
To me this is a classic In-the-Flow (Directed) way to get your work done, as it’s part of your workflow.
In an earlier post I mentioned how wikis can be used In-the-Flow.
The difference between the wiki and a bin is that bin is serving one function, whereas a wiki can be used for other things.
Eg. give a knowledge worker a wiki and show them how to use it for meetings.
With this same tool they may decide we can use it for gathering ideas for a proposal…then with a wiki again they may decide to draft the report in the wiki.
Later on they may decide to use a wiki to make a best practices page, or an ideas page…this example is when it gets interesting as this use case starts having less to do with functional duties and more about volunteered Above-the-Flow stuff.
What once started as using wikis to get your tasks done is now being used to volunteer tacit know-how.
But what I get from this is like email and blogs, wikis are free-form unstructured tools, they can be used in a bottom-up way just like the Toyota example to solve a workflow problem. But even better it’s a tool that can be used again and again to solve or assist in other problems.
My point is a wiki is more than that bin solution, I won’t even say re-usuable, it’s moreso a tool that can be many solutions.
Peter also talked about getting wiki usage by integrating it with other tools, making it a part of the current lancscape, rather than only being a standalone tool…perhaps this is the similar thinking behind Wetpaint wikis as widgets.
He also mentioned deploying social tools as a way to solve issues, rather than calling it Emterprise 2.0, call it “email overload solution”, “work around solutions”, etc..for others see Mike Gotta and James Robertson.
When implementing social tools, they may be deployed with the message that conveys:
- As we all know email overload is slowing us down and causing much frustration
- We have a solution to relieve at least a quarter of your email overload
- Communal webpages (wikis), and news channels (blogs) will be used rather than email for particular types of communications
- Wikis will now be used to set up meeting agendas, and to house minutes
(you can set up a webpage and everyone can edit it, subscribe to changes, leave a comment for discussion)
- Blogs will be used for broadcast email eg. announcements, news
(publish an entry and peope who subscribe to that blog will receive that new entry)
(you can also publish a post by sending an email to the blog email address, if there are people who don’t subscribe to the blog, but you want them to read this entry, then put their addresses in the cc: field when)
(you may want to put a link to the blog home page on the end of your email-like a blog post footer-so hopefully the people in your cc: field will subscribe to your blog)
- Blogs for news
- Wikis for meetings
- Forums for discussion
All types of managers can reject an email if it’s sent for one of these reasons above…people need to get into the habitual routine, and a little discipline helps.
It would also be mentioned all the various other ways you can use wikis and blogs, especially to get the flow of tacit know-how moving.
Other social tools would be social networks, bookmarks, podcasts, micro-blogging, etc…
While I was writing this post I read Abbie Lundberg’s, The business value of Twitter…it triggered some thoughts that seemed to weave into this post.
Something interesting would be internal micro-blogging like Twitter, but it could be called “watercooler” or the “listening ear”
This is to be used rather than email, blogs, wikis, and forums; if it’s brief (a couple of sentences), more immediate and conversational.
The watercooler is most commonly used to post a couple of words or sentence on a thought, idea, insight, question…
Eg. if you have an excel issue with forumla’s, post a one liner question or frustration, someone may be listening, and give you an immediate answer.
In this respect I think Twitter is more prone, easier, less commited than blogs to express tacit know-how, and to offer help which also shares tacit know-how. Actually conversation is where it’s at, and an internal Twitter marketed the right way will be the optimal example of what we want out of KM 2.0 (conversation exchange).
I expressed this in my Tumblr a little while ago:
“Twitters value contribution to the knowledge flow-spontaneous, unpolished, work in progress, thinking out loud-lends itself to this type or quality of participation due to its brief, immediate, and intimate publishing format…let’s hope internal blogs generate the same calibre of tacit value without being hindered by their format.”
NOTE: Capgemini have a paper called Enterprise 2.0 for the Rest of Us. You need to register, I couldn’t be bothered, but if someone else has please send it my way.