Pfizerpedia: Wikis in Pfizer discovery research

If I were still reading chemical engineering literature on a regular basis, I would have come across this earlier.  But someone at the workshop I'm attending mentioned Seeing The Forest At Pfizer from Chemical & Engineering News (C&E News) from Sept 3, 2007.

A radical knowledge-sharing initiative takes hold at the world's largest drugmaker

The big question that arose at the workshop is what makes a wiki work in one organization and not in another organization.  The person who pointed to this example works at another Cambridge-based biotech company and hasn't had nearly the same success with a very similar wiki implementation.

One difference I suspect is around the size of the population is critical.  If the 1% rule holds, you need a sizable population to get enough active contributors to get value in the implementation.

4 Comment(s)

Ben Gardner said:

Interestingly, based on ad hoc polling, we appear to be beating the 90:9:1 rule!

jackvinson Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for this, Ben. Your article makes a good point that the enterprise has a built-in sense of community (we all work for the same entity). The interesting thing to study would be to test how much community members are likely to participate / contribute in wikis and other group-participation activities.

I tend to believe that having a community gives you (the enterprise) a jump start in the extraneous aspects required to achieve higher participation (trust, shared context, share needs ...).

Environmental Engineer said:

Is anyone familiar with the type of QA/QC used in Pfizerpedia and what role, if any, Pfizer's (and other entities that have attempted to implement a similar system) legal counsel has had in developing and managing this system? It seems to me that an "encyclopedia" that presents information for firm-wide dissemination, without QA/QC procedures, is a lawsuit waiting to happen if the information on it is not complete and correct.

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

You are thinking about this down the wrong mental line. I worked at a pharma company (that was acquired by Pfizer), and had the same concerns. The real value behind Pfizerpedia or other corporate efforts at sharing knowledge is that they provide information that hasn't otherwise been documented. And even if it is wrong, it is easily corrected by anyone who interacts with it.

It should also be noted that regulated activities should not be guided by a wiki. They should be guided by SOP's that people are trained against. There is plenty of information needed in business that has no need of being reviewed or approved before being made available.

You might also want to read more detail at Information Week:

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