Monday 23 July 2007

Organising a workshop using a Wiki

Following from my recent post, 15 productive uses for a Wiki, I have been thinking about how wiki's can help improve collaborative working - No. 16, Organising a workshop using a wiki .

Workshops are used to gather small groups of people over a short period of time to concentrate on a defined area of concern. They are used to brainstorm, discuss ideas, help in decision making, and to plan a course of action.

Usually a workshop is organised by a facilitator, who will invite participants to attend via email. This email will include the title of the workshop, date & venue, a brief description of what is to be discussed (background, progress-to-date) and the list of invitees.

At this stage, the facilitator will probably field a number of questions in relation to the workshop from invitees requesting further information. So, when the facilitator responds to each individual question, we are in a situation where the workshop has already been siloed into a number of individual channels - before it has already begun!

This is where I see the opportunity for improvement. I think it would be useful for the facilitator to setup a wiki for the workshop. The wiki would include:
  • Workshop Wiki Homepage - (Title, Brief description, Aims & Objectives) This page sets the scope of the workshop, and is the entry point to the wiki.
  • Admin Details - (Date, Time, Venue, Contact details, List of Attendees etc.) This would help eliminate the standard phone calls and other queries in relation to the basic information for the workshop.
  • Agenda Page - (List of items for discussion, Presenters, Workshop Structure) This page will allow invitees to remind themselves of what will be discussed. This can be updated/altered in accordance with comments/suggestions in the time leading to the workshop.
  • Background Information - (Documents, Intranet Pages, Presentations, and other related material) This would help invitees to prepare themselves for the workshop by having quick access to all relevant material which will support the workshop on the day.
  • Workshop Discussion Page - (Facilitators' answers to pre-workshop queries) This would allow all invitees to keep up to date with any queries, additions to the agenda, and comments/suggestions by all involved.

The main challenges to managing the communication via email, and keeping invitees up-to-speed in the time leading to the workshop are well presented by Jeff Oxenford in his post Death by e-mail. Jeff points out that:

While e-mail is a wonderful thing, it's not designed as a discussion tool for the following reasons:

  • E-mail is one-way communication, not discussion.
  • Written words and tone often get misinterpreted - 90% of communication is non-verbal.
  • Messages often cross in cyberspace, so you're commenting on proposal 1 while others are commenting on proposal 3.
  • It's much easier to be negative when talking to a computer screen
  • People don't read every word of an e-mail message.
  • Many important decision makers tune out when the flow of e-mails get too great.

Like Jeffs' guidelines for email, I would say that:

  • Send out the Invitation by e-mail (in the form of an invitation to the new workshop wiki).
  • Accept comments/queries, responding with an acknowledgement, and a link to the page on the workshop wiki where the comment has been noted/addressed/been posted for collaborative reaction.

So the advantages are:

  1. Capture Knowledge - Gather all the relevant background documentation and information required for the workshop.
  2. Organise Knowledge - Setup the workshop wiki, with areas for confirmation, collaboration, and communication. Avoid crippling delays and irrelevant discussion on the day by allowing attendees to contribute ideas and suggestions before the workshop takes place.
  3. Target Knowledge - Allow all of the attendees to get up-to-speed before the workshop. The wiki also allows for those unable to attend to contribute in some way.
  4. Transfer Knowledge - Document action plans and outcomes of the workshop for all attendees to see. This allows all involved to keep up-to-date with the "What next?".
  5. Maintain Knowledge - Allow future reference to the work carried out in this process so as to help in other projects and prevent re-work.

Please let me know what you think. I may consider exploring collaboration-enabling topics such as this one for my KM dissertation.


Application of Wiki's (wikipedia)

Supporting Community Through ICT (Rountable Workshop)

Wednesday 18 July 2007

15 Productive Uses for a Wiki

Here is a great resource from Web Worker Daily, called 15 Productive Uses for a Wiki, posted by Leo Babuta.

The 15 uses listed are:
  1. To-do list
  2. Project Management
  3. Operations Manuals
  4. Checklists
  5. Plan an event
  6. Log client work
  7. Track invoices
  8. Notes & Snippets
  9. Goals
  10. Contacts
  11. Workspace
  12. FAQS
  13. Collaboration
  14. Reference
  15. One place for everything

Depending on the size of your team, the culture in your workplace or your personal preferences, any number of these suggestions are applicable to improving your working environment.

Wiki's won't change the world, but I like them, and I believe that they will appeal to younger professionals in the future who regularly use social networking and collaborative tools as part of their daily college experiences.

Be sure to check out all of the "responses" below the post, as there are many testimonies from individuals and groups who are using wiki's to improve how they work.

I am using a wiki, (early stages at the moment), to manage my KM dissertation. I chose Wetpaint, which allows me to setup custom page templates enabling me to document categorised case studies and paper reviews in a consistent manner. I am hoping it will also provide an interesting medium for collaboration with my supervisor.

You can see the Extacit Wiki here.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

An introduction to Knowledge Management

Here is a nice resource from called An Introduction to Knowledge Management, which was wriiten by Meridith Levinson.

It briefly covers the following aspects of KM:

What is Knowledge Management (KM)?
What constitutes intellectual or knowledge-based assets?
How can tacit knowledge be transferred?
What are the benefits of KM?
How can I sell a KM project in my organisation?
How can I demonstrate the value of a KM initiative?
Best approach to KM?
Challenges of KM?
How to gain support for, and ensure sustained engagement with KM systems?
Who should lead the KM efforts?
What technologies support KM?

Monday 16 July 2007

Corporate Blogging Resources

I came across two corporate blogging resources at the Blogtronix Wiki.

I find the topic of corporate blogging interesting. Can your organisation really realise tangible benefits from blogging? Well, personally, I think that this media will become more important as the net generation replace the current consumer market.

By net generation, I mean the teenagers of 2007, who from 2010 onwards will open bank accounts online, harness wiki's and rss for information/news digestion, and will probably no longer want to receive communication with service providers via traditional mail and postal services.

It remains to be seen whether this generation will research potential service providers by analysing the material of their corporate blog?

There is also an interesting Social Text wiki site, Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki, which has some interesting discussion on corporate blogging.

Tuesday 10 July 2007

Book - "Transforming your intranet"

I came across this fantastic chapter today via Bill Ives Portals & KM blog (which is a goldmine for all on KM, portals, blogging and much more!).

This book is called "Transforming your intranet", and the technology chapter "Preparing for Intranet 2.0 - how to integrate new communication technology into your intranet" is authored by Kathleen Gilroy, the Otter Group and Bill Ives.

I will talk about this paper in more depth in later posts, but I really think it is one of the best I have seen in terms providing a great snapshot of the use web 2.0 technologies to encourage innovation, collaboration and platforms for publishing ideas.

In this chapter you can read about:

  • Understanding RSS

  • Building a blog network

  • Wiki's

  • Social computing tools

  • Search techniques (tagging)

  • Case Studies (Siemens, IBM, and Merrill Lynch)

You can download the chapter from here.

Monday 9 July 2007

RSS in plain english

Another great video from the guys at CommonCraft. This time they explain how RSS(Really Simple Syndication) works:

This one would be excellent in showing your senior execs why the intranet should have RSS built in so that employees can receive all the information they want without wasting valuable time trying to traverse through often over complicated intranet sites.

Wiki's in plain english

This is a great video from the guys at CommonCraft explaining how wiki's work:

I think it is brilliantly simple, yet expresses the key advantages of wiki's:
  • Collaboration
  • Simple Editing
  • Anywhere, Anytime Editing
  • Fun!

It would be a useful tool in a demonstration to executives/senior management who may never have heard of or used wiki's.

IBM's Irish interns innovate with PodSmart

My school moto was - "Mól an óige agus tiocfaidh sí" - This is Irish for "Encourage the young, and they will succeed".

This is no more evident than in the case of the IBM interns at the "Extreme Blue Lab" in Dublin, Ireland. A group of 2006 interns have come up with PodSmart.

"PodSmart is a new technology from IBM that allows you to have your work and personal e-mail, calendar appointments and news feeds read aloud on any MP3 player, including iPods. You can customise playlists, so for example, PodSmart reads your most important e-mails, your urgent appointments and your favourite news sources. You can even listen to music."

and the Sunday Tribune (8th July 2007) reported that:

"IBM likes the text-to-speech personal podcasting idea so much it's planning to incorporate the technology into the latest edition of its new office productivity suite, Lotus Notes 8, and is sharing the patents with Irish students Edward Mackle, Keith Pilson, Declan Tarrant and Eamon Phelan who came up with the "corporate mashup""

"what we're seeing is 20 year-olds coming into the workforce who are not happy doing things the traditional way. These people have grown up through a connected world and workplace collaborative technologies have to reflect that. User interfaces will have to be more functional and user-friendly than old ways of doing email and collaborative technology. They're saying things like: 'why should my online social network stop at the doorstep of the office?'"

I love this example of grassroots innovation. The interns were given laptops, assigned a business and technical mentor, and encouraged to contact any of the 350,000 IBM employees throughout the world.

The result was amazing, generating interest from executives, a user group that's motivated to manage countless emails and information feeds.


Friday 6 July 2007

Extacit Wiki - Managing my KM dissertation

In my recent post, What is Knowledge Management?, I talked about personal KM. As part of my experiment with blogging, I have now created the Extacit wiki on

My plan is to use this wiki to document many aspects of the dissertation from my initial possible proposal ideas, to co-ordinating and organising my communication with the supervisor assigned to me.

I see the advantages as being:
  • Collaborative review - The use if wiki will mean that both my supervisor and I can review, comment, and update any part of the Extacit wiki even if we cannot meet on a particular week.
  • Consistent Versioning - Hopefully the wiki will greatly reduce the number of email traffic which would normally be associated with organising and managing a dissertation project like this.

  • RSS Feeds - The built in rss feed will automatically inform my supervisor (and any other subscribers) that a change to a page has occurred. Meaning I don't have to constantly spent hours emailing my updates to them.

  • Anytime, Anywhere editing - When I am at work, I usually have to email any thoughts or research to my personal email and work on it when I get home. Now, I can simply record a note on a to-do list at the wiki and can capture the thought/link immediately.

  • Peer exposure - I hope that by publishing my ideas and thoughts through this blog and the Extacit wiki, I can increase the number of readers of my ideas. I welcome any comments on either my blog posts or indeed any aspect of the wiki.
You can see the new Extacit Wiki here.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Case Study: The British Council Using Wikis on the Intranet

Here is an interesting case study by Maish Nichani on the use of wikis in the Singapore branch of the British Council.

The article is called:

Using Wikis on the Intranet: The British Council Case Study.

It shows how a simple implementation of wiki can achieve surprising results. I especially like how the wiki helped to improve their monthly meetings.

In this case the technology was JotSpot by google.

Sony Vaio Support

In a post entitled In praise of Sony Vaio support by David Terrar at Business Two Zero, he airs his frustrations in relation to difficulties he was having with his Sony Vaio SZ laptop, and the subsequent quest for a solution.

David says:
"The battery on my Sony Vaio SZ Laptop failed. It’s out of first year Sony warranty, but still under a John Lewis two year guarantee. John Lewis regard batteries as consumables, and so their guarantee doesn’t apply - doh! Sony’s battery problems are well documented. After a little research I found a forum where people were relating exactly my problem on my model PC, with some who’d got battery replacements from Sony outside of warranty. When I contacted Vaio Laptop Support, explained and pointed them to this forum, they sent me a replacement battery, no questions asked. Excellent. "

This is a great example of how, with a little bit of searching, the web can help facilitate consumer knowledge sharing to the benefit of all.

The forum he was referring to was here. Sony also have an online user community for customers to collaborate as described in my recent case study post here - Sony Vaio Community .

I say well done to David. How many of us would have given up and just bought a new battery in this situation? Maybe the collaborative sharing emerging in blogs etc, will empower the consumer!