Enterprise wikis

Enterprise wikis: In large part, my interest in the wiki platform is based on a longtime interest in the dynamics and practices of knowledge management within the context of a narrow community, i.e., an association or corporation. (I believe Wikipedia is an excellent example of an “open” wiki — perhaps the ultimate example imaginable, but who knows? However, the wiki concept is about more than Wikipedia.) I just sat in a session led by some folks who are knowledgeable about wikis installed behind firewalls at some rather large corporations. It was a great session and a great panel. (Here’s a photo of them.) Why? Because the panelists had two very curious professors who study the topic but know the topic is too new for there to be any “experts” — so they had great questions. The panelists are “doing” what they’re talking about, but it’s so new they know there’s no one “way” — so they shared the audience’s interest in what one-another was saying. Indeed, I got the sense that panelists were wanting to keep their own comments short so they could hear what someone else had to say. Also in the audience, there was lots of knowledge that was freely shared — i.e., the questions and answers were distributed throughout the room.

Interesting item (among many, but I’m too engaged in listening to another session and talking with folks to blog):

McKinsey has a wiki that’s being used as a knowledge-sharing platform for its worldwide staff of 6,500 (I think that’s the number). One of the reasons the wiki (which is not run on the Mediawiki platform, but one with a friendlier user interface) is that, currently, the “basic unit of knowledge” at McKinsey is a PowerPoint presentation. I’m simplifying and probably mischaracterizing what the actual practice is, but the panelist said that the authoritative document on a specific practice-related topic is typically a PowerPoint presentation. I felt the need to ask Michael Idinopulos of McKinsey to clarify that, as I found it difficult to believe that a PowerPoint presentation could have become the form of documentation that has become the pinnacle of knowledge at such a place as McKinsey. He said it had, as did other panelists who’ve worked at similar consultants and within large corporate environments. “It’s not the best way to document knowledge,” said one of the panelists. “It’s not even the best way to make a presentation,” I said.

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  • Blair Stilwell

    You haven’t worked with consultants in a while, have you, Rex? PowerPoint, Word, and their billing software are the centers of their universe.