What can you learn from the CIA about Enterprise 2.0?


I am going to be doing a series of posts about Enterprise 2.0 especially as the Enterprise 2.0 conference is next month in Boston. I would have loved to attend this event – however between the web technology conference in Hong Kong where I am giving the keynote and Supernova 2008(where I am also speaking) – attending Enterprise 2.0 in Boston will not be possible.

However, since I have been interested in Enterprise 2.0, and it looks like a great conference and many friends like Dion Hinchcliffe and others are speaking there .. I will do a series of blogs on this topic leading up to this conference. These may include interviews of speakers and other insights

There is a very interesting session by Don Burke and Sean Dennehy from the CIA about Intellipedia.

What can the CIA teach you about Enterprise 2.0?

Apparently, quite a lot as it transpires. (For the record – I have always been supportive of security and defence personnel since I believe that they are doing a great job under very difficult circumstances)

Here is an example from the same two speakers when they spoke at Harvard


Burke explains that the Intellipedia encompasses three core principles to help organizations overcome hurdles to adopting the new technology and its culture. The first is to work topically rather than organizationally. Information does not have to bear the seal of the organization. Instead, the community is better served with the Intellipedia aggregating information on a topic. This permits all appropriate members of the community to work topically, which also helps eliminate territoriality with regard to authorship. Debate can focus on the topic instead of on its source organization.

The second core principle involves the audience. Dennehy allows that Intellipedia users are encouraged to work to the broadest audience possible, which again runs counter to the prevailing culture of specialization amid need-to-know. He notes that many students who have participated in a sabbatical program want to interact with military and diplomatic colleagues who often have Secret, rather than Top Secret, network access. With Intellipedia residing on those two networks along with the sensitive-but-unclassified network, this interaction is enabled through the secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNET).

Burke adds that one hurdle to this principle is that the audience is changing. Formerly, the audience would be defined by the network level to which the broadest audience has single-click access. The solution is to encourage users to work as broadly as they can where they can access easily without needing to switch between systems.

The third key principle is to replace existing processes. Burke relates that many prospective users believe that they are too busy to learn a new tool or to deposit information in more than one place. What they perceive as additional tasks dissuades them from adopting the Intellipedia. The third principle aims to convince these users to replace their current processes with the new ones that represent a more efficient and effective way of doing business instead of adding more duties.


This session will be very interesting. And it is nice to see organizations like the CIA engage with people and conferences.