JCintra, our Intranet Wiki, has seen incredible levels of adoption and participation, with a positive impact on the way information flows in our organisation.
Over 18 months, JCintra amassed 23,335 content contributions from 239 (~70%) people. The number of contributions per month continues to increase steadily.
But, JCintra continues to function as an incredibly easy to use Intranet, rather than as a genuine Wiki. In fact, 85% of our 3000 pages only have one contributing author. (Interestingly, this behaviour occurs even at Atlassian, who build Wiki software as their business!)
This article documents our cultural journey so far, and outlines our ideas for driving the next phase of change.
Decisions about information sharing in organisations like Janssen-Cilag are complex. Some information should be open, but isn’t. Some information needs to be closed and controlled. Some ideas should be discussed in the open, while other ideas need to be carefully communicated.
Success is defined by what we do, not what we have the opportunity to do. Implementing a Wiki isn’t success, building an organisation that will take collective ownership and collaboratively edit content is. Technology creates opportunity for changes of behaviour and helps shift the conversation away from excuses (it’s too hard) to reasons (it’s too risky).
Frankly, at Janssen-Cilag, we don’t yet know exactly how we should be communicating and collaborating. But, we do know that the steps we’ve taken so far have improved communication, increased our flexibility and given people the power to run with ideas. We want to continue this journey, pushing more power to the edge of the organisation.
All knowledge work is either individual or group based, and it is always performed in an individual, shared or open environment.
The Enterprise Collaboration Maturity Model depicts these work models, and incorporates the cultural journey that enterprises take to reach each stage. Currently, Janssen-Cilag provides an open Wiki (high capability maturity) but primarily uses it as Groupware (medium usage maturity).
To continue our journey, Janssen-Cilag needs to become comfortable with the idea that published content is not finalised. Specifically, we need users to:
Successful Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration requires both technical and cultural maturity. While technology opens immediate potential, organisations must grow towards new patterns of usage and collaboration.
There are dozens of reasons and millions of excuses as to why people won’t share knowledge; but they all fall within two areas:
These negatives cannot be eradicated, but they can be minimised.
Collaboration and knowledge sharing take time. The technical process takes time, but more significantly, wording your thoughts takes time.
Tools for collaboration must do everything possible to reduce the friction of contributing. It needs to be so easy to use, that you can literally laugh at anyone who tells you it is too hard (in a nice, let me show you, kind of way). In practice this means single sign on, one-click editing and instant gratification on saving. Hurdles like slow technology, login screens, workflow approvals or training kill collaboration before you even start.
The time taken to correctly phrase thoughts and distil ideas is unavoidable, but can be minimised by changing our expectation of shared content away from “finished product” towards “work in progress”. Publishing information early and often (rather than infrequently and completely) moves authorship away from essays and succinct conclusions towards sharing of insights and decisions. The ultimate method for sharing without increasing work is to move the work in progress into an open environment (share everything by default).
Policy opportunities exist to move (but not reduce) the work of sharing knowledge. For example, information is shared verbally on the condition that the recipient will publish it for wider consumption. He who asks, documents. A solution like this rewards the giver with time, builds knowledge on-demand and provides learning reinforcement for the recipient.
Collaboration and knowledge sharing increase personal risk by creating a published, traceable flow of inputs (My mistakes are permanently recorded!) and making past information less valuable than new ideas (What if they don’t need me anymore?).
Risk can be offset by increased rewards, such as recognition for contributions or performance objectives based around knowledge sharing. In practice however, these are hard to implement or judge.
In fact, most people are comfortable with publishing or sharing “finished product”. At Janssen-Cilag we’ve seen this through high usage of news announcements and publication of documents. Unfortunately, most knowledge work is a constant work in progress without a clear end-point and thus never reaches the point of being shared.
The solution is to encourage content contributions that are finished enough to be low-risk publishable, but are not so big as to never reach completion. Encourage people to contribute to a flow of insights and decisions that are made as part of larger projects. Adding to the flow of information (I’m adding to the discussion) is far less risky than publishing final knowledge (I own the final decision) or changing existing content (I’m changing the company position).
News announcements have been the most successful part of JCintra. Open for publishing by anyone in the organisation, they have replaced email for announcements ranging from major organisational change through to baby announcements.
Through this flow of news, JCintra has become the trusted source for the latest information. “Did you see the announcement on JCintra?”, is not an uncommon question around the office. As a result, users also expect JCintra to have the latest policies and information. By owning the flow of news, we’ve created the trusted source for information stocks.
There are three critical information flows, each of which creates its own stock over time:
A focus on capturing the flow has many advantages:
Over time, the flow of decisions and insights washes over the organisation, helping each person refine their mental map and build a personal body of knowledge. When new items fit their mental model, they can be increasingly confident and aligned in decision making. When news doesn’t fit their mental model, they can seek clarity or raise an area of concern.
Focus on owning the flow of information, then have the patience to watch the stocks gradually compile.
Shamelessly stealing from the Agile Manifesto, I propose the following values for building Enterprise 2.0 collaboration systems:
(That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.)
We are building processes and tools to help with collaboration, but should never forget that the main thing is that people actually work together and talk to one another. We don’t need to capture every conversation or every piece of knowledge, we just want to strengthen weak ties.
Training in systems is important, but only after we’ve done everything possible to design for zero training. In an enterprise, your Mum really is the end user; design for her! Always sacrifice features and power for ease of use. The minute you have to train people you will lose them to the “more work” excuse.
It’s tempting to aim for tools that deliver exactly what people need in different scenarios. To always take tools that one step further to capture their exact requirements. In reality, people like to push and abuse tools that are comfortable, flexible and part of their every day work (e.g. email, Excel). Wiki’s, blogs and search are great examples of simple tools that can be used for a myriad of purposes without needing a million customisations or extensions.
Finally, deliver solutions that meet an existing need. If you build it, they won’t come. But, you can build it around where they already are.
At Janssen-Cilag, our Wiki has settled into a steady pattern of news publication and simple intranet editing. It is well established and respected for these tasks. Our aim is to build on the strengths of JCintra, while expanding into new areas of knowledge capture.
First we will make internal blogging available to all employees. Links to new posts will be interspersed with news on the home page, creating a flow of ideas in the trusted location but not taking valuable attention away from the full content news items. The people directory will also have direct links to recent posts.
Second, we’ll add a Twitter / Facebook style status capability to the people directory which has a history and can be updated via SMS. This is a powerful micro-blogging solution for our field personnel and will be integrated with the Office Communicator Note field. Recent status updates will also be incorporated into the home page news feed, but in a very lightweight way. (The Jitter screenshot shows our early experiment in this area, which we have decided not to launch but instead integrate into the people directory.)
Finally, we hope to expand our internal project management offering with something in the style of Basecamp, which can create a feed of project related milestone news for the home page.
Overall, the aim is to build on the strengths of JCintra by adding ideas and project milestones to the flow of information that washes past people on the Intranet home page. With time this will build a powerful stock but, most importantly, it immediately provides ideas and stimulation to drive interactions between individuals.
Successful Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration requires both technical and cultural maturity. Janssen-Cilag has adopted an open Wiki with the potential for collective ownership, but usage remains dominated by individual contributions to a shared space. This is reflected in the high usage of JCintra’s news column for announcements and the regular publishing of team and policy information.
To encourage an organisational shift along the enterprise collaboration maturity model, Enterprise 2.0 leaders should focus on capturing the flow of information. Over time, the flow builds not only a stock of searchable knowledge but also a reputation as the source of fresh ideas and trusted up-to-date content.
Building on the success of our Intranet Wiki, Janssen-Cilag plans to introduce internal blogging and personal status updates to encourage the flow of individual insights and decisions.