Business - Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:29 - 5 Comments
Guest Blogger Stewart Mader on Wiki ROI #1: From ‘Interruptivity’ to Productivity
Editor’s note: this is the second in a multi-part series from Stewart Mader, author of Wikipatterns. You can check out some of his other work a Grow Your Wiki, and his first post on the wikinomics site is here.
In Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast, New York Times writer Matt Richtel looks at the growing problem of fractured attention in the workplace – thanks to email, instant messaging, and other interruptions that are costing employees 28% of a typical workday – and the cost isn’t just measured in time:
In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions, predominately mundane matters, according to Basex. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.
I often talk about email as a “push” medium – that is, you push messages out to recipients, and each person gets their own copy. This seems simple enough, but two problems emerge in practice. Each new email message can be an interruption, and the fact that a separate copy goes to each person means that it isolates people from each other.
Also, with email there is the perception that you have more control because you can select recipients, but in reality you have less control over the message because you can’t control where it ultimately goes. Any of the original recipients can forward it, and this can leak sensitive information, take things out of context, and give you a whole new set of problems that require a lot of time and work to deal with. That can mean even more lost productivity from more important work.
A wiki, by contrast is a “pull” medium – it pulls people in to look at content on a single, shared page that everyone can edit. That means people see all the changes that everyone else makes, and in builds a stronger connection & community instead that’s just the opposite of isolating. allows you to do two things:
Explicitly set access permissions on a page to restrict who can view and edit it. Others can’t change this so information the needs to be protected really is secure.
For information that isn’t restricted, the awareness that it can be widely read requires you to think about what you include and how you present it so that it will be clear and useful.
Here’s an example of this from Nate Nash:
Frankly, I sort of like the idea that if some moron in my company drops an F bomb on a blog post, that slickness is immediately exposed to the entire company. I hope he gets fired. And HR keeps the post up as an example of “what not to do with the enterprise Wiki.” If you are that dense I am 1) glad other people know, 2) convinced you don’t deserve a job here, and 3) now aware that we might need more stringent hiring practices. All good things in my book. This staffing action can happen in our Wiki.
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