There’s no tougher time slot to speak in at a conference than that dreaded “post lunch.” Humour & good story telling always helps. And that’s what Susan Reisinger & Gregor McLeod brought as they presented “Tools for Knowledge-sharing: Wiki Success Case Study for the US Navy’s Global Distance Support Centre.  Imagine for a moment trying to implement technology to deploy highly sensitive information in an extraordinarily security conscious environment — oh, with no budget. And, that the information may be about how to move a cat from one country to another, or it may be about informing next of kin that their family member is deceased. Oh — and that many of the influencers in the organization have “tribal knowledge” and have been chiefs who held that information.  Those information holders know quite a bit, and they know who to know & who does know.  You definitely want them on board (no pun intended.)

The platform chosen had to have an easy access and easy to use, & allow ppl to attach documents; it had to have a training application, as well as a way to relay and highlight new, hot information – and threads for discussions.  The wiki supports 20 ppl working in the call centre that are responding to the requests of more than 250,000 ppl.  Wow.

The answer? the wiki — a commercial wiki was free, with access controlled via the internet.  It met all the criteria, plus it could be customized by any call centre to meet its unique needs.  Usage can be tracked and refinements made based on experiece.  It has been an easy access into the 2.0 environment for people that don’t text on their phones, probably haven’t heard of Twitter and are dubious of Facebook. The disadvantage has been security, but no classified information has been put on the wiki; like other government agencies, wikis are making their way into their internal intranets — they are looking at using Sharepoint, and they’ve seen a significant shift in the attitude towards collaborative tools like this in the past year.  Another disadvantage was that there is currently no way for the wiki to interact with their crm; this will be a huge step forward for knowledge sharing when this connection can happen.

What have they learned?

– That if they ask ppl what they need on the wiki, those same ppl will then use the wiki

– they did start with content they already had, and then began enhancing that content that may be outside the standard environment — that “tribal knowledge”

– that after a while, ppl will start to ask for content to be added to the wiki

– that a “gate keeper” works in some environments, like the navy

– that giving the wiki prominence as the authoritative source works in engaging ppl

– having a signle authority to review and manage content frequently is critical

– all 20 ppl in the call centre will be engaged in the upkeep

– “even the most resistant will embrace

the wiki when they see how easy it is, and how

Reisinger and McLeod at KMWorld

it helps them do their job.”

The wiki allowed them to have a son in Iraq r

espond to his family that he was “ok” within 45 minutes of them hearing on the news that his unit had come under fire.  That works.

Reisinger and McLeod at KMWorldUS Navy Global Distance Support Centre wiki