Could A Wiki Be Your Next Talent Management System?

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I have done a number of interviews recently with companies who are successfully using social software tools within their organizations. 

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of talking to Bearing Point about their use of wikis throughout the organization. Suffice it to say their collective adoption of wikis has been very successful. A quick Google search will show that they have already received a great deal of publicity on this topic. Wikis are used by practically every department and team within Bearing Point for all manner of collaboration, including such cases as project management, deliverable co-authoring, and as a platform for visualizing and augmenting the working social networks that exist between its advisors. Or as Bearing Point puts it: they see wikis as a replacement for Microsoft Word, Outlook, and the company intranet. If there was a reason to use any of these other tools previously, there has probably been a movement to now use the wiki instead. The end results: wikis have become a key component of the organization’s success and productivity. And Bearing Point has acquired an impressive store of thought leadership and best practice regarding wiki adoption and use.

A few themes stand out from the conversation:

As best evidenced by expansive use cases already described, Bearing Point deliberately ignored the typical advice that they might give to a company looking to implement any new enterprise tool – to start small with a single, clear business problem to address. Instead, they celebrated the revolutionary nature of the tool. They sold its value as a means for changing how work is fundamentally done, not as simply a new, better way to accomplish the status quo. The success they have achieved in roughly two years time is extraordinary, but it did not come easy.

Which takes us to the second highlight: The original wiki project had a small, defined team with a budget. Evangelists were identified throughout the organization to champion adoption and blaze a trail by populating the wiki with useful content. Usage built organically as the content enticed the general populace into engaging – with the tool and with each other. But, being an evangelist was no one’s day job. All of this initial work was done ”off time.” And since the initial start, there has been no dedicated wiki team. There is no dedicated wiki budget. Bearing Point employees volunteer to help steward and govern the wiki. New volunteers are vetted, but they are not compensated for the time. One very illustrative point: none of the administrators or power users responsible for maintaining the wiki are from the IT department – not one. (To be clear, the hardware is hosted by a 3rd party, but the wiki, Atlassian’s Confluence product, is administered and maintained by business users throughout Bearing Point.)

One final nugget from my conversation with Bearing Point that our readership in HR and Talent Management should find particularly intriguing:  As a consulting company, it is vital for the organization and its consultants to readily understand the individual sets of expertise and experience that each consultant brings to the table.  Each consultant’s past deliverables and past projects speak directly to what she/he can offer in future engagements.  Effective resource planning depends on the ability to quickly identify and inventory the intellectual footprint of every human resource.  Bearing Point uses the wiki and the personal spaces within it as a platform for organically maintaining extended resumes for each advisor.  Further, they use the wiki as a workforce planning and internal recruiting tool.   Advisors collaboratively develop job requirements and job profiles for new roles and initiatives.  They use the wiki to recruit and assign resources to projects, and to maintain connections with resources already assigned – and all of this work is accomplished without requiring much ,if any, effort from HR.  Bearing Point has found the wiki to be such a powerful talent management tool that they are considering whether or not to abandon the formal talent management system already in place within the organization.  They find the wiki to provide greater value at less cost and with less overhead – a very interesting concept.  We will check back in with them in the future as to the outcome.

What do you think?  How is your organization using a wiki?

  

Dani Johnson

Dani Johnson, Vice President, Learning & Development Research, writes about the evolving L&D function. Specifically, she focuses on the necessary changes in how L&D approaches its responsibilities and allocates its resources (people, time, and money) to have a lasting effect on both organizations and individuals.

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