More Challenges for Applying Web 2.0 inside the Firewall

After my last post … more experiences at work, and observations in the trades and other blogs, regarding Web 2.0 tools for use in business …

Improving Knowledge Capture is Half the Battle

In last week’s Information Week magazine, the story of Procter & Gamble’s push towards collaboration – the tools can meet some resistance. A critical quote: We consistently hear that information posted to the intranet is incremental work. Similarly, in my organization, I have folks continuing to send out eMail project status updates – and then copying the updates to our project database.

Double work, yes – but is this wrong? Actually, I think it’s required, because teaching the content creators to use new knowledge capture tools is only half the battle. We also have to coach the knowledge consumers that the updates they seek are available elsewhere. So why are we surprised when there is some resistance? You are, in effect adding incremental work; at first blush, it doesn’t matter if the information is easier to use – it’s still a different application than I’m comfortable working with. Matt Asay has a great post on this concept – hits the nail on the head!

Windley’s post has a great title – Are MBAs Too Dumb to Use RSS? He uses it as a mild perjorative, but there is a nugget of truth here; many folks don’t know about or understand what feedreaders (etc.) can do. Experienced systems implementers know that the pioneers and early adopters are easy converts, but the magic happens when you can connect with the early majority.

Web 2.0 Technology is Half the Story

Dennis McDonald has a number of recent posts about Corporate IT and Web 2.0 – as if the new technology is the tail wagging this dog. In some ways, I agree with some of these ideas:

  • Collaboration doesn’t have a chance if corporate IT doesn’t allow it on the network
  • Corporate IT – especially in public companies – is risk averse, and wants the big vendors
  • Corporate IT has to be involved, but not necessarily the driver

That last point is key, because you can lead the corporate horse to the Web 2.0 water, but you can’t make them collaborate. It’s a different set of skills – some folks will get it, and some folks will fight it – but I think most folks will stand by, bemused, and watch it all go by, until it becomes a job requirement. That’s not cynical, it’s reality; 500,000 people stood in long lines to get their first-edition iPhones, but most of us stood back and wondered where the cost/benefit really is on stuff like that.

Pick the Best Tool for the Job

More examples at work this week where folks have good stuff to contribute – but where to put it? Is this a blog post, or an FYI / Announcement – or should I start a Discussion? I’m starting to develop some prose to help folks pick the right tool …

  • A blog is more like a diary, a running commentary – especially suited for status updates on a project. Think like a personal notebook, or a lab journal, that folks can browse and search. Content here should be more around insights, observations.
  • Announcements – think bulletin board – is this the type of thing you would tack up for all to see, or send out an eMail to All?
  • A wiki is a searchable reference guide – an online book with many authors, but a single, commonly understood view.
  • A discussion forum is an electronic conversation – with many voices, but with multiple views.

You can stuff your SharePoint site with all of these great tools, but if you don’t give some sort of guidelines on which one to use – well, don’t be surprised when participation tails off …

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.