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Back in the day, when I worked at Renaissance Solutions (an unfortunately defunct boutique management consulting firm), we talked about the ideas of Solution Calls and Puts (think options on the stock market). I didn’t ever get comfortable with the words that we used for the ideas, but basically it was a clearinghouse metaphor for the “I’ve got a problem” and “I’ve got a solution” statements. At the time, there weren’t any toolsets that enabled this, though we tried pretty hard to custom build them for our clients, and we actually did a good job at it.
Today, things have changed greatly. With the advent of serious blogs (of which I hope this is one), there are a lot of Solution Puts out there. That is, many people are proclaiming to the world “I know something useful!” Just today, when I had a rampant process running on my laptop, I found a solution in a blog as the second hit when I Live Searched the process name. On the other side, if I come up empty-handed in my Web searching I can ask in my blog if someone knows an answer, and perhaps someone will comment that they have one or point me to another blog that does.
In a corporate setting, enter Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007. MOSS provides blogs and Wikis that can be deployed across the enterprise. While the Web is the Wild West on some levels (how can I trust that what I’ve found won’t hurt me more than help me?), with MOSS and an appropriate (but not necessarily burdensome) process, the Solution Puts (answers) can be vetted and validated, and the Solution Calls (requests for help) can be categorized and directed to the appropriate answers. Alongside this, Wikis can be built up to explain how to do things: How do I install a piece of software? Who would I talk to about certain types of technical processes? Not only that, because I can see who has the Solution Puts around a certain topic, I know that I can track down the ‘resident expert’, even when I didn’t have any idea who (s)he was.