Have you ever been in a meeting where you’re working with your customer, you’ve brought additional technical support, and your own people simply were not aligned when it boiled down to your customer’s needs? Perhaps the support folks couldn’t find the location and called you 5 minutes before the meeting for you to realize they were still 10 minutes away. Maybe folks showed up with khakis and a polo when formal attire is required. Or were they flying blind hoping to pick up context during the converstion. No, you’ve never been there before.
Enter the Wiki. The Wiki is an easy to setup and easy to use resource for small departments to large global enterprises that allows information sharing on a real-time basis. What kind of information? Well, any, really. The web-based interface allows point and click reading and editing of information in the wiki. No special formal training is necessary to get started.
Some great ways to leverage a Wiki is to help your folks gain a comfort level about a client before a customer visit. Your wiki may contain local hotel information, good places to eat with your folks reviewing local restaurants, and probably directions including nuances and local landmarks from an airport or hotel. You may choose to enter interesting details of the people your folks might talk to on a client site. For instance, “Joan is responsible for the eCommerce systems and has some strong relationship with marketing, including Manuel and Bruce.” Organizational information will help your folks navigate the communication channels on site. Then simple information about dress code and company culture will help your folks feel comfortable the minute they walk in the door.
Most importantly, the Wiki gives your folks a chance to gain alignment on your clients’ business needs. If sales and delivery update a wiki with relevant information, you now have a platform where all the participants should be up to date about the particular project or initiative. You and your company will gain credibility as you capture your tribal knowledge in a formal way that allows new participants to join the conversation mid-stream in a knowledgeable fashion.
As the Wiki becomes more mainstream you can find its use even in the most protected areas of our government workings. InformationWeek ran a short piece about the CIA leveraging Wiki technology to augment learning and information sharing across their own organization as well as with other government agencies. The CIA’s advice? Organize your wiki by topic and not corporate structure. Start small. And make barriers to use low.