We’ve got a problem …

Listening to the Director of Research at Manning & Napier speak at the Enterprise 2.0 conference about his adoption of a SocialText wiki for his 40 person group. The firm manages $16 billion of client assets.

He started out by saying they had a management problem (i.e. a pain), and then went looking for solutions. This is a key and probably obvious insight … yet, with all of the talk about Ajax, Wikis, Blogs, mashups, Ruby On Rails, etc., the will to buy and the will to adopt/use new technology is born and fed from the need to solve pressing problems and it feels like the need to solve a pain is many times missed in the 2.0 talk.

The problems were as follows:

  • Inability to efficiently capture and retrieve the knowledge of the Research Department (high turnover industry) – most info was in the email system and impossible to find.
  • Promotion of communication between different sector groups and different age groups – breaking up silos and bridging the communication gaps.
  • Potential for communications between different parts of the organization (e.g. Research & Marketing)
  • Real-time documents, time and space shifted meetings

Biggest gripe of the Chairman was the lost knowledge when the research analysts walked out the door, which is the first bullet above. This was a very big problem for him – turnover is an industry wide issue that while constantly addressed, still happens. With the prospect of solving that pain, they adopted the wiki. From that initial adoption, they have begun to start solving the other communication problems that seemed to be less pressing … for example, the 71 year old chairman is the most read blogger in the company and now and puts out routine blog posts to the company.

It seems this knowledge capture and sharing is a classic benefit provided by a wiki, so the fit seems natural.

^ brian

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  • If you want to better understand the business impacts of knowledge loss and identify what management should be doing to address this problem, take a look at my website: http://www.LostKnowledge.com. I do ongoing research, management education, and consulting on these issues. –DD

  • Hi David … thanks for your comment. Interesting services offerings. I would be interested in learning more and will email you.