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Knowledge Management and Participation: My Question to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia

Posted by Sumair Dutta on Jun 2, 2015 2:06:03 PM

Over the course of the previous 3-4 weeks, I’ve had the privilege to attend some wonderful user and customer conferences. One of these was the IFS World Conference held in Boston. The conference featured the announcement of major milestones (1m worldwide users for IFS Applications) and the continued push around IFS Applications 9 to customers and prospects.

The conference also featured a keynote from Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. In his speech, Wales spoke about innovation, disruption, and the principles of business and community growth. (Did you know? In 1919, it took 62 days to get across the US). He also spoke of the mission of Wikipedia (seem image below) and the challenges tied to diversifying Wikipedia’s contributing community.

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, IFS World Conference, May 2015. Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, IFS World Conference, May 2015.

After the keynote session, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Mr. Wales and I managed to shoot over one question. The question revolved around knowledge management and why major organizational initiatives around knowledge management struggle. It seemed like an appropriate question for someone who has supported and enabled the creation of one of the largest and most effective knowledge sharing platforms. His answer (and my interpretation of his answer) focused on three challenges:

  • Design - Organizational knowledge systems are typically not designed by average users and therefore difficult to access, navigate, and use.
  • Focus - Organizational focus on knowledge isn’t strategic to the point where knowledge is treated as an asset. At all levels of the organization, knowledge creation, categorization, and curation, are treated as side projects and not as strategic initiatives.
  • Culture - It still isn’t ok to ask for help. Culturally, asking for help can be viewed as a weakness especially when we are all supposed to be ‘experts’ in our fields.

These are all extremely interesting topics as we embark on a research project tied to knowledge management for service effectiveness. The project will also focus on the extension of knowledge to customers to improve customer self-service opportunities. If interested in participating in the research or in sharing your knowledge journey, feel free to reach out to me at or via @suma1r on twitter.

On a final note, Wales shared a video highlighting the impact of knowledge access on social change. Do spend a minute on this -


Topics: Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, IFS, Perspective, knowledge management, IFS World Conference 2015

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