Wikis And Contemporay Trends In Human Resources Development

About all of the world highly-developed countries boast a service-based economy. This means that western companies' most valuable asset is their skilled worforce. Investing in people's talent is maybe the soundest strategy ever - yet few enterprises are actually doing so. How could wikis help reverse the trend ?

The Wiki Way Of Doing Thing

The central tenet in the way wikis work can be summed-up in one word: collaboration. Wikis encourage people's participation through their mechanism of easy page edition. They foster collective creativity by letting people create a coherent result from many small, individual additions. By the very way they work, using wikis in your company is a testimonial to your staff that you believe in their potential.

Empowering People

One of the most tricky issues enterprises are faced with is the matter of life-long learning. How do you get your staff to keep itself up-to-date and aware of a constantly-moving business environment ? A wiki offers an elegant solution to this question : first, it provides a place where information that would have otherwise disappeared can be stored. Working in a Wikipedia-like manner, inside your company, a wiki can offer a base for shared knowledge amongst workers. Second, a wiki is user-enriched; from this follows that all the little bits of knowledge that are spread amongst employees can at last find a place to be expressed. More information available for a responsabilized staff: this is what wikis can do.

Providing Flexibility And Freedom

Another important evolution taking place inside the corporate world is the shift towards an increased place given to part-time and remote working. Wikis provide a useful and easy to use tool when it comes to coordinating the work of people working from different places, at different times. By providing a durable place where information can be added and structured, a wiki allow your company to provide its staff with more opportunities. Let them work when it is easier for thel to and see the global productivity of your company boosted.

What should you remember ? It is, basically
That modern HR trends are going through wiki.

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© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

A Wiki To Get Customer Feedback

Ever dreamt of a place where the people who buy your products could tell you what they actually think about them ? A place that would help you increase customer satisfaction, enlighten consumer needs and give the market what it is looking for ?

How could that work ?

The rationale behind such a wiki goes as follow : first, a wiki is a place where people can easily share and discuss information. What's more, people are always lookig for a place where they could tell brands what they think about what they are doing - and find out what others say, too. A wiki would provide your brand with an interactive place of reference for customers looking for more than usual corporate websites.

Ever thought a FAQ was not enough ?

Most users of your products do not know that they could use it for much more than what they currently do. Just think about iTunes : how many interesting features are you not using ? A wiki would let you create an interactive FAQ wher people could share tips about what can be done with your products, and give your company more space to build clever FAQ and how-to. The era of the notice silent about the very point you are wondering about just vanished.

Collaborative Product Design

The last part of this evolution could take the form of a wiki where engineers could suggest new products and instantly get feedback from potential clients. Designing specifications with the help of actual end-users : what better way to keep in touch with the market requirements ? Your customers could be your greatest fans, just let them express themselves !

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© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

Wikis And Clusters Of Competitiveness

Clusters of competitiveness are growing in popularity all around the world as a way to organize industrial actors in an effective way. They allow the creation of pool where resources are available for companies to pursue their operations in a driving environment. In order to make the most out of clusters, using a wiki to share information and knowledge between members is more than a sound idea : it is the next move on your agenda.

A cluster is a men's adventure

Rather than anything else, a successful cluster is a geographic zone where like-minded people can share, exchange and interact. A cluster by itself provides no more than an environment for business contacts, a pool of skilled workers, good communication structures... It's up to its members to make it live up to a successful venture rather than a failed attempt. To sustain human interactions in the context of a cluster, using a wiki is more than relevant.

How a Wiki could help Your Cluster

The fact is, most spoken information is lost on the rather short term. Even piles of e-mail do not end up in organized, searchable chunks of information. Using a wiki would allow companies to put all the untold information in one place and interact with it. Imagine an evolutive repository of companies, people, projects where information is kept up to date by those who have to rely on it to get things done : members. Then add a layer of collaborative tools and feeds to keep in touch with what is happening and you get a good idea of what a wiki could bring your cluster.

Does this really make sense ?

Just think about all the stuff you think about in one given day that could lead to great ventures, but is lost for it lacks a place to be expressed. Then think about what would happen if you could share this with the people who fit best your own profile : the other guys from your cluster. This place could exist, if only you took the step of creating a wiki. You could start one for a groupwork, an then extend it to see what is happening. But beware : if you taste it, you will never feel the same.

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© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

The Bottle In The Sea Model

Some companies have decided to fight against the Paper-Plane Model (described below). They took a brave step : they decided to implement a Content Management System (CMS) ! This allowed them to switch from a system where e-mails are everywhere to another where information is centralized ... but no one actually goes through it.

The Model

In the Bottle-In-The-Sea Model, people put their files and documents in a centralized space where they are supposedly able to access and work on it easily. In practice however, most of this content is sunk somewhere and not seen by anyone. Although one may keep track of the last 10 documents, he is soon lost in version revision history. Content is there but ease of use nowhere.

Why does it work this way ?

The problem with CMS systems is that information is in a raw format, without structure. Although you can find about anything somewhere, you will not understand what are the connexions between the pieces of information you will find. This is due to the fact that CMS are built as repositories, not as user-friendly softwares.

Let me guess ... A wiki ?

The main advantage of a wiki over a CMS is that it allows you to give added value to the content you enter in the system. People can work directly on the page to which a document is attached. You know what your document is, in what context it should be understood. Research results are better too. Now you know what the data you found relates to. Not only do you have data, now you have meaning too.

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© Guillaume Lerouge for

The Paper - Plane Model

Communication in contemporary enterprises often looks like a darts game : I throw mine, and hope it will reach its target. The matter is, you hit the center only from times to times and all the remaining darts are quite unuseful. How does this relates to communication inside enterprises ? Just think about the way you are using e-mail. How many of those you receive are direclty relevant to you ?

The Paper-Plane Model

This model summarizes the point made before. It describes how, in companies, communication solutions (and specifically e-mail) are used to throw paper -planes containing data in many directions, hoping that something will come back from all these efforts. Paper is everywhere, information nowhere. Requests for contents are not organized in any coherent way as every individual tries to creates its own database with sent and received planes. The question is, why does this happen ?

Underlying Factors

All this has to do with the way people share texts and documents through e-mail. The ease of use of the application let everybody free to add copied recipients, to send uninformative messages, and so on. Every request generates a new message, even though the query may have been previously answered somewhere. Ever had this feeling of déjà-vu when you received a "new" question ? There is no central repository for the contents already created that could be browsed to retrieve information. But then, does a solution exist to solve this problem ?

A Solution Through Wikis

A wiki offers a good way of escaping the paper-plane model. It provides a centralized space where information can be added and modified easily by users. What's more, this space can be easily browsed through an integrated search engine. All your information is in the same place, always available and up to date. The number of planes is highly reduced, and the ones still in use carry more relevant information. Their content is progressively integrated into a database of all available knowledge in your company. Move on from the paper - plane model, go Wiki !

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© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC