WiKi Wise

Some of you may be wondering why I would have started this blog in the first place – perhaps unusual for a new director of a healthcare program to want to share my thoughts and seek input from all of you at Weight Wise plus anyone from the general public who should care to comment.

Well – the reason is that I am true “believer” in peer production or “peering”. As most of you know, I am also the Director of the Canadian Obesity Network. However, what most of you perhaps don’t know is that back in 2005, the entire Network application was written on a “WiKi“, created just for the purpose of writing the 30 page grant in less than six weeks! Using an open source WiKi seemed to me quite simply the most sensible way of preparing an application with 120 co-applicants – just imagine the chaos, had we tried to e-mail around various versions of the word document, trying to figure out which version was the latest. To my knowledge this was the first grant application (at least in Canada) to ever have been written using a WiKi.

Those of you who know of Wikipedia, probably appreciate the power of WiKis – but that is just the start – today, WiKis are used by 100s of small and large companies to work collaboratively both within as well as outside the company – and the reason for this is quite simply economic gain – this concept has even spawned the term “Wikinomics” (a must read by Tapscott and Willams!).

The basic idea is that thanks to the internet, the production of goods and services today has become a collaborative activity in which a virtually unlimited number of individuals can participate. Properly implemented, this technology can unlock innovative potential and resources both within and outside an organisation.

The ability fo integrate talents of countless individuals and allow them to participate has been also referred to as Web 2.0. In succesful companies today, employees have an unprecedented knowledge about their firm’s strategy, management and challenges – and an unprecendented opportunity to contribute their unique ideas and expertise to their solution. In the end, radical sharing and openness is a win-win for everyone.

“Today”, in the words of Tapscott and Williams, “openess, peering, sharing, and acting globally – defines how 21st century corporations compete – very different from the hierarchical, closed, secretive and insular [mentality] that dominated the previous century. The old, harwired “plan and push” mentality is rapidly giving way to a new dynamic “engage and cocreate” economy”.

For Weight Wise to become a global leader, this is the kind of philosophy I am keen to adopt.

After only four weeks with Capital Health, I can only be amazed by the enthusiasm, dedication and excitement of the almost 60-70 people who directly or indirectly make up the Weight Wise team (I still don’t know quite how many are actually involved). The range of expertise is mind-boggling – a shame not to use every last bit of it to build a truly world class beacon of obesity prevention and care.

Those of you watching us closely will rapidly see an implementation of a variety of Web 2.0 tools that will foster openness, collaboration, information and “participaction”. We will have both open and closed systems – all of you will be asked to provide input. There are a number of web-based platforms that allow this type of interaction – I am particularly looking at Socialtext – currently the world leader in open-source WiKi-based collaboration and project management software platforms – but there are others.

In the end, whatever platform we decide to use, all that matters is that all of you can contribute and take true ownership of Weight Wise. Remember, we are up against the biggest chronic disease epidemic ever experienced by mankind – we can certainly use every mind and bright idea that we can muster, if we are to stand a chance in providing prevention and treatments to 100s of 1000s of individuals struggling with overweight and obesity – this blog is only the start of the level of interaction that I seek to implement – look out for more to come.