If you wikify processes will people really use them?

Last week I was asked for help by a friend to try and find people with specific expertise to consult on a project that needed very quick responses due to the project’s timelines. I thought about how best to do this and in the end used email to try and reach out to some people. There were also other people involved who were reaching out to others who I did not know personally and I’m assuming that everyone has limited time to respond to anything these days. Also there is a global recession, multiple people looking for work but not everyone can know everyone’s personal circumstances.

I wondered if there was a way in which this could be enhanced and would provide more value to the original requestor by wikifying the process.  I would really value suggestions or exploring this issue further with anyone. I have often been asked about using wikis for operational processes. I have a meeting tomorrow where we are looking at using wikis to streamline bids. So is it possible to do the same for above – to me this is one of the main sticking points that I have with collaborative technologies (not going to use web 2 or social as terms for this post), its all very well suggesting it but everyone is at different levels of feeling comfortable using technologies and if a technology is going to cause them issues or make them feel uncomfortable – then they will not use it. So could a wiki help?

Some possible requirements?

  • Personal touch – if an originating requestor is asking for expertise it is because they don’t have it, this may make people feel less comfortable so as human beings they want to feel safe/secure in requesting help – so  1:1 or 1:few technologies such as email, twitter direct messages, skype chats are more likely to be used initially. Also the people who have been requested also need to have high trust in this process in order to make decisions.
  • Time – as above, lets assume that everyone in the process has very little of it
  • Reaching / finding people quickly
  • Opening up the opportunity to people that may be suitable 
  • Facilitating quick response from all parties
  • Providing suitable and timely information to make decision about accepting or mentioning interest in it
  • Needs to reach people using multiple collaborative technologies already without duplication

These are just some, hopefully enough to give an idea. Don’t have time to sketch this out but I wonder about this as a possibility:

A wiki used with some other technologies. So whenever anyone receives a request – similar to the one I received above, it could be posted onto a wiki – a bit like a kind of open job board with details of the project, contact details, date, dates required for response etc I think you could get the wiki to talk to twitter or use a RSS feed to auto-update any social network, blog or RSS to email as well. I don’t see value in setting up a separate social network for this, part of the reason for choosing a wiki, is that people are already using multiple social networks for things already and I think it would be better for this to go to multiple networks where people already are, rather than just set another one up.

This means anyone interested could respond – but this could result in the originator or anyone else assisting – receiving and possibly overwhelmed by a lot of individual responses (including spam, if you’re putting contact details onto a public web page…), so could this be further streamlined by the wiki? Hmmm. Maybe – but it also depends on how comfortable people would be with seeing others names and/or responses – is there a way of hiding the  response so that only the originating requestor sees it ? If people just add their name to a page – or taking this a step further, someone suggests someone else and adds them – maybe without contacting that person (how open can we be without causing individual people unintentional harm???), it is convenient in terms of managing the time issue but does not really help with the personal touch – so it may not be used? What if people suggest other people for less than helpful reasons – i.e. it is a public web page – this wastes everyone’s time and would probably damage the credibility of the wiki as a whole?

Would putting requests on a wiki really reach people with greater expertise and less time – even if they saw details via twitter – would seeing either multiple names already submitted or even if this is not shown, assume that various people have already responded and they are already short of time so less inclined to pay attention to it?

I have no doubt at all that using a collaborative writing space certainly makes it easier to set up in the first place, easy to post requests, definitely a better way of reaching a wider audience, but I don’t know about its use unless issues including individual sensitivities (which are valid and can make or break deals) such as the above can be resolved ?

Tom Haskins has been writing  a lot about collaboration recently, also Harold Jarche’s posts on wirearchy and Jay Cross also has great insights on informal collaboration. Maybe we can find answers there ?


    • Hi, apologies for the delayed reply, been out this week. Re Linked in – not on this one – but could potentially do if asked for any other projects – I don’t think that Linkedin would have provided enough information, also I do not use Linkedin enough myself to know how much people have actually received consulting contracts from it – do you know at all ?

  1. Nicola, I have an example:
    “Someone” (not linked to me) asked to one of his contacts to contact me (she is my contact) to forward to another of my contacts an offer to work in “someone’s” university. As far as I know my contact didn’t accept the offer but this example showed me the power of Linkedin

    Tony Karrer blogged about his experience in using Linkedin to find experts and expertise.

    He wrote: “I’ve known for some time that my success rate in contacting someone who is 2nd degree (there’s one person in the middle who will pass my request on) is roughly 80%. If the person is 3rd degree (SUCH AS IN MY EXAMPLE) it’s low enough that I don’t even bother. The problem is that no one connects or knows both parties and can somewhat validate the request. So, I really only contact people I either already am connected with or are 2nd degree.”

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