19 Jul 2014
Collaboration is often cited as a key success factor in many enterprise information management initiatives, such as metadata management, data quality improvement, master data management, and information governance. Yet it’s often difficult to engage individual contributors in these efforts because everyone is busy and time is a zero-sum game. However, a successful collaboration needn’t require a major time commitment from all contributors.
While a small core group of people must be assigned as full-time contributors to enterprise information management initiatives, success hinges on a large extended group of people making what Clive Thompson calls micro-contributions. In his book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, he explained that “though each micro-contribution is a small grain of sand, when you get thousands or millions you quickly build a beach. Micro-contributions also diversify the knowledge pool. If anyone who’s interested can briefly help out, almost everyone does, and soon the project is tapping into broad expertise.”
Wikipedia is a great example since anyone can click on the edit tab of an article and become a contributor. “The most common edit on Wikipedia,” Thompson explained, “is someone changing a word or phrase: a teensy contribution, truly a grain of sand. Yet Wikipedia also relies on a small core of heavily involved contributors. Indeed, if you look at the number of really active contributors, the ones who make more than a hundred edits a month, there are not quite thirty-five hundred. If you drill down to the really committed folks—the administrators who deal with vandalism, among other things—there are only six or seven hundred active ones. Wikipedia contributions form a classic long-tail distribution, with a small passionate bunch at one end, followed by a line of grain-of-sand contributors that fades off over the horizon. These hardcore and lightweight contributors form a symbiotic whole. Without the micro-contributors, Wikipedia wouldn’t have grown as quickly, and it would have a much more narrow knowledge base.”
MIKE2.0 is another great example since it’s a collaborative community of information management professionals contributing their knowledge and experience. While MIKE2.0 has a small group of core contributors, micro-contributions improve the breadth and depth of its open source delivery framework for enterprise information management.
The business, data, and technical knowledge about the end-to-end process of how information is being developed and used within your organization is not known by any one individual. It is spread throughout your enterprise. A collaborative effort is needed to make sure that important details are not missed—details that determine the success or failure of your enterprise information management initiative. Therefore, be sure to tap into the distributed knowledge of your enterprise by enabling and encouraging micro-contributions. Micro-contributions form a collaboration macro. Just as a computer macro is comprised of a set of instructions that are used to collectively perform a particular task, think of collaboration as a macro that is comprised of a set of micro-contributions that collectively manage your enterprise information.