Building community inside the enterprise

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Case study about building a collaboration wiki inside the IT community at The Washington Post.

First presented to students at USDA Graduate School in June 2008.

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Building community inside the enterprise

  1. 1. Community building inside the enterprise Moving toward wiki adoption at The Washington Post By Dave Burke. Presented at USDA Graduate School in June, 2008. 1
  2. 2. IT Workspace • Our case study • What’s a wiki • Two key concepts: linking and tagging • Lessons learned so far
  3. 3. Washington Post IT Unit • About 200 people • Supports operations of the newspaper and some operations at other Washington Post Company affiliates. • Publishing systems • Advertising systems • Syndication • Accounting • Production • Infrastructure
  4. 4. My Team: Web Solutions • 14 people • Design, build, and manage web applications to support The Washington Post • These include. . .
  5. 5. Background - Web Solutions • Back to 2005, we’ve been working on how to better support our apps • Much of the problem stemmed from important knowledge being trapped • Various private and shared drives • Old email threads • But mostly, people’s brains
  6. 6. KLMNO Risk of wetware-based knowledge storage For instance, on most Saturdays. . . http://www.flickr.com/photos/aok/2190318934 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelo/614958266/ Technical Architect His boss dave burke
  7. 7. Background - Web Solutions • 2006-2007: The stakes for application support were getting higher • SOA was making troubleshooting more complex • A large SAP integration was making it more business critical • We needed a better process, and a better tool • We tried a wiki
  8. 8. Background - Web Solutions • Results from our 60-day pilot • Wiki works as a platform • But the product we chose didn’t cut it • Special markup language • Users were anonymous • Attachments/Images were difficult to handle • We kept using it
  9. 9. Document Repository Study project • WYSIWYG Editor - no markup language • Named users and single signon • Full-text search, including attachments • Email, RSS integration • Tagging for dynamic organization and blogs
  10. 10. What is a wiki? 13
  11. 11. What is a wiki? A collection of web pages Every page is editable Just click, type, and save. Every page has a name Link by page name; no HTML required. Source: Ross Mayfield. http://www.slideshare.net/ross/new-paradigms-for-using-computers
  12. 12. What is a wiki? Communication Not a “Platform” “Channel” (e.g., e-mail, IM) READER EDITOR EDITOR READER AUTHOR READER AUTHOR AUTHOR READER • Visible to all • Visible only to participants • Persistent • Transient
  13. 13. What is a wiki? • Wikis build group memory (or at least a better chance at it) • Simplifies collaboration (everyone works on the same document) • Accuracy through (identified) peer review • Every page revision is saved Source: Ross Mayfield. http://www.slideshare.net/ross/new-paradigms-for-using-computers • Roll-back changes with a click
  14. 14. What is a wiki?
  15. 15. What is a wiki?
  16. 16. What is a wiki?
  17. 17. What is a wiki?
  18. 18. IT Workspace Wiki 19
  19. 19. IT Workspace Wiki It’s like our own Wikipedia. 19
  20. 20. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging
  21. 21. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static
  22. 22. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static Tagging creates groups of related pages •“Machine Made” • Dynamic
  23. 23. KLMNO What are tags? • Keywords related to an object (e.g., photo, wiki page) • Tags categorize objects on the fly Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/260004685/in/set-72157594311446988/ http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  24. 24. KLMNO Tagging example: photos on Flickr.com View this video slide: http://bit.ly/St5A1 http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  25. 25. KLMNO Relating photos with tags http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  26. 26. KLMNO Relating photos with tags “Christmas” “Evan” http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  27. 27. KLMNO Tagging works similarly on the wiki View this video slide: http://bit.ly/puuZn
  28. 28. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging “IT’s News” Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static Tagging creates groups of related pages “System” •“Machine Made” “WebLogic” • Dynamic Tags are keywords
  29. 29. Lessons learned so far
  30. 30. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Mindset shift - Sharing by default • Current: "I only know of three people who need this information, so I'll email it to them." • New and Better: "I only know of three people who need this information, so I'll publish it on the workspace for them, and any others I don't know about." • Best: “The workspace is my default tool for collaboration and communication, because it's easy, and it gives me maximum value for my time. I only use email when I really need privacy.”
  31. 31. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Publishing Anxiety • A belief that the workspace is more official makes people think their work needs to be polished and 100% accurate, which leads to them doing nothing. • Current: "I'm happy to answer questions in the hallway and by email, but writing something 'official' is a bigger deal." • New and Better: “I understand that the IT Workspace is a living document. I can contribute information I’m only ‘pretty sure’ about, and note it as such, just like I would in email.”
  32. 32. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Organize-as-you-go model takes getting used to Traditional New 1. Write 1. Write 2. Edit 2. Publish 3. Publish 3. Edit (repeat)
  33. 33. Lessons learned so far #1 Question about the wiki so far: “Put this info on the wiki? Okay. . . where?”
  34. 34. Information Architecture Challenges • Tag ambiguity
  35. 35. Information Architecture Challenges • Overcome some tag ambiguity by declaring a tag for a particular topic
  36. 36. Lack of structure scares some people
  37. 37. Lack of structure scares some people • It helps to provide an overall structure to start
  38. 38. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html
  39. 39. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels Wikipedia IT Workspace 1.67 Billion 150 1.5 Billion 135 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html 167 Million 15
  40. 40. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels Wikipedia IT Workspace 1.67 Billion 150 1.5 Billion 135 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html 167 Million 15 http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-sends-167-billion-users-to-wikipedia- per-month/5084/
  41. 41. Key roles in wiki success Managers Gardeners
  42. 42. Why use the wiki? • Support self-service • Fewer late-night (or mid-day) support calls • Easier access to the information you need to support your systems • Less occupational spam • Wiki pages and blogs allow you freedom to choose what info you receive • Keep your skillset current
  43. 43. That’s it. Questions? Dave Burke dave@daveburke.com http://slideshare.net/daveburke 43

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