Lead with what you want, not what you have

coffee is fuel
I am intrigued by this bit of advice from Michael Idinopulos writing about Creating a Participatory Knowledgebase: 3 Best Practices

Lead with what you want, not what you have. Many groups, especially research groups, tend to use the wiki as a dumping ground for research they’ve already done. This research typically takes the form of reports which were written for a specific audience to answer a specific question at a specific moment in time. So the value of the reports themselves isn’t so great. What is valuable, however, is the insights embedded in those reports. That’s what contributors should be encouraged to post to the wiki. Put differently, a page called “Trends in Retail Channel Marketing” is a better wiki page than “2006 Analysis of our Company’s Channel Marketing Spend”. (Of course, the report might be useful as backup–so include it as a link from the main page on trends).

Since I’ve recently been up to my eyeballs with a wiki on knowledge sharing, this caught my eye. How do we use language to engage others? What makes something “yet another info dump” and another thing an attractor towards ongoing knowledge sharing?

The KS wiki is mostly about sharing information about knowledge sharing tools and methods. This information is available all over the web, but scattered. What it also lacks is insights of what to use when and a place for stories of use. Right now, we are really working hard to try and find ways to express the invitation for sharing use stories, but I had totally forgotten about ways to ask for what you want? Now I’m thinking maybe a page that is a springboard to expressing need.

Creative Commons License photo credit: NataPics
What do you think? How would you phrase the invitation? How would you make any of the existing pages on the wiki more of an invitation to what we want, vs. what we have?

3 thoughts on “Lead with what you want, not what you have”

  1. This is an interesting thought. I think that one of the reasons we feel so much more comfortable creating information dumps than platforms for engagement is this fear of looking stupid if you admit: These are all the things I don’t know!

    And as researchers we have been brought up to not put ourselves out there with anything unless it is a peer reviewed journal article.

  2. Yup, I see that too, Eva. Our organizational and/or professional cultures create barriers to asking for help or admitting we don’t know. I wonder how many of us it takes to role model it is ok not to know before a culture will change? For scientists, that probably isn’t enough. It is institutionalized from university training on, eh?

  3. Hi Nancy, I don’t have experience with wikis where you hope people will find the wiki and contribute (like wikipedia). I think it might be easier to find groups that will USE the wiki because they work in the same area. For instance PSO learning facilitators could use the toolkit and contribute to it.

    Somehow, though, if you haven’t been involved in the set up of the wiki, you don’t easily contribute to it. At least that is my own experience.. (of course this is completely contradicted by wikipedia, but there the goal is compelling enough)

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