by Akber Choudhry
In my experience with implementing Web 2.0 collaboration platforms for companies, this question invariably pops up: What control processes do we need to put in place?
The answer to that question is not that straightforward. The extraction of knowledge and its accumulation and organisation has to be as easy and seamless as possible, while the commercial realities of running an organisation dictate that processes around content and its management be laid out first, and understood by all.
The solution is not hard: We are not trying to establish a new process, for if we were doing that, we would be defeating the purpose by asking busy knowledge workers to partake in a new process. We are encouraging them to use common web-based collaboration tools to improve their collaboration. No one knows where and how that collaboration will end up, for if it was all known beforehand, there might not be the need for collaboration and knowledge management tools in the first place! So, what do we do? We monitor the collaboration and wait for patterns and styles to emerge and then manage them, while still not disallowing new patterns and techniques to emerge over time — eventually becoming a continuing process.
For example, a project or a community does their work and moves on. Someone (a human or an automated process) is watching and monitoring activity according to a policy. Emails are sent out before the collaboration is taken down and archived, or a human intervenes and changes the policy as it applies to that collaboration. Activity directions may also be discussed with legal, HR and general management. When risks arise, automated processes can be put in place to discourage the risky activity. An example may be a customer-facing forum that may divulge a company’s intellectual property.