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6 (plus 1) ways to make friends with Your Confluence

I remember one of projects with this funny guy talking to himself, when working on his computer. Let's call him Bob. Bob - old-fashioned, late 50-ties, with great knowledge in his expertise area (financials and taxes), some mid-level computer users skills, and talking to himself, well, rather utilising non-existing (still on my wish list) voice-computer interface, like:

"Well, move this cursor, will You?"

"I don't want this rows here, I want them there"

"Will you please, shrink, you silly picture"

And a lot like that. Of course sometimes Bob went pissed off, and used a lot of "f" word. And some others. Due to he was pure English, his swearing had a rare combination of elegancy with multi-level structures that could make many gangsta hip-hop stars blushing.

I can see You smiling now. I can see you laughing. I would too, really, if only I was not the one that should convince Bob, that Confluence we just deployed for his company is a tool for him. But I was.

1. Sun Tzu, Your Mama jokes and Confluence

I am rather resilient to any "internet wisdom" like quotes from different authors or thinkers. But there are exceptions. Sun Tzu - beloved by military, business, and parents of huge families wrote: 

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

 In real life - any It system, nor the Confluence in particular, is your enemy. But saying so I also realise how people are afraid of changes. They want it, but they're scared. Of course they are. They have done their stuff done in the same ways over time, sometimes for years. And suddenly there comes a change. Whatever "The best tool in the world" you will have here (and Confluence is indeed the best), people will be afraid. I don't blame them. I don't blame YOU!

Well, yeah, here we go. It is about You. You just got Confluence installed, You are told it will speed up, and ease your job, Project finalised, software deployed, maybe even training given, and suddenly You are on your own with Confluence. So, following Sun Tzu - know yourself, and know your Confluence.

It is difficult to distance yourself from your daily job. To look at it objectively. To find pros and cons, flaws in daily schedules, advantages of doing things one way or another. After all - it a serious thing. YOUR JOB. 

But please make it a joke - for a while. get distance. WIth one of teams I worked with we developed pretty funny, yet unusual method: we used Your mama jokes pattern. In their nature silly and immature - they served a good purpose:

Your mama is adding phrases to photos in Paint 3.0

Your mama is making new document to change one header

and so on. Silly, stupid, but it worked. We got what we wanted - things that we want to do differently, and actually Confluence gave us opportunity to do as we wanted. It let people familiarise with unknown.

2. Dare to make mistakes, dare to correct them

If You look at wiki patterns e.g. listed here, You will find that people prefer to correct/edit content over creating new one. On the other hand - main reason why people do not wan't to create it is they are afraid of making mistakes, doing it wrong. Greatest challenge of sharing knowledge is to overcome this. So here is a simple guide:

1. Dare to make mistakes

2. Dare to correct them

3. Back to point 1

And IT IS as simple as it is. Don't be afraid of judgement. 90% of people don't participate - they just lurk at content. So if You create ANYTHING - You are already at Top 10%. That is meaningful. If You are wrong, if your content is not "top of the class" - it is still there. Your creation. 

Then - If You are not happy with it - or anyone is not happy with it - edit it. Correct, improve, add, update, make it fancy, make it simpler, elaborate, do whatever is needed to have it better. 

And then create another. And start all over again.

3. Make it real story

There is nothing wrong with informative content. But then again - do some exercise: read your kids your kettle or your vacuum cleaner operations manual and read them a story - a tale about the kettle or a vacuum. Which they find boring, which they find interesting? 

And do You think we are so different from kids? Look at your books or movies preferences. Look at what presentations at business events You are more interested with. People do love stories. Of course - not every content will be "A tale of 2 cities". But make it as close to it as You can. Use some tricks. 

One of most noticeable things I learned about building up Knowledge bases is how differently authors and readers utilise language. 

Author's common is to use neutral language:

"How TO change password", "How TO get a new computer", "How TO whatever-the-heck-do-something".

Readers common approach is to search for:

"How CAN I change password", "How WILL I get a new computer"

Can You see the difference? Then with content itself it is also a bit of "personal touch" if You write it "You will, You can, You do" instead of "Has to", "Need to be done". 

A story need imagination. Built a structure for it. Make it visual, yet simple enough to use imagination. Make people reading it imagining they actually do the thing, not just read about it.

4. Team up!

Oh yes, I know You might be overwhelmed with "team work", "collaborate", "shared effort" - as majority of modern business buzz is around these. And frankly, sometimes it is just a buzz - used as justification, leverage, motivator, where actually everyone is still on his/her own with actual job to be done, but there will always be someone to take some credits for it. 

Well, neither me, nor Confluence can fix it. 

But - indeed - team up. Not with "credits collectors", but with people that bring some added value. You are a good copy writer but sucks at graphics? Get someone who is good at it - and bargain. You are techie, but need some legal content? Get someone who You know is knowledgeable at it, and exchange for bits and pieces of Your techie stuff.

Oh, You are the introvert? You are knowledgeable, but are not confident with other people? Definitely there is some annoying extravert around. Someone You know. Someone Who will take off your shoulders all things with dealing with other. And You will focus on what's important for You. 

All of above are applicable both ways. Tested & proven to work

5. Break it into pieces

OK, here it is. Look at this article - several pieces glued together by one topic. But when You read it from very scratch to very bottom - well, it takes some time, isn't it? Time is precious. It is more precious than anything else.

And it applies to EVERYONE. Those who write, and those who read. Break Your content into pieces. Work on them one by one. If they would require merge afterwards - do it. But make it also swallowable to readers. There is no one perfect approach, as people's ability to focus differ on topic, personal characteristics, and few other things. But let's assume that in daily work You will not find more than 15-30 minutes UNINTERRUPTED time to spend on some custom reading. Make content concise again.

6. Let's get Loud!!!

I am pretty sure that if You followed above tips You got pretty nasty, hell good piece of content handy. Don't keep it low. Let the people know. Let them read, let them judge, let them praise or criticise You. Make it loud. Talk to colleagues, bosses, talk to internal communication, talk to Confluence admins, talk to anyone, and everyone. Be proud of what You do. Use every feasible (mind the policies) comm channel - Instant Messaging, article sharing, do presentation on some internal meeting, etc. 

Positive - and good feedback will value and reward You. 

Negative - but still good feedback will let You improve.

Bad feedback - some shitty complaining without a point - don't bother. Haters gonna hate. Whatever You do.

7. BONUS - From time to time lurk here

It is not my job in this article to elaborate on Confluence technical, or functional advantages. 

Neither it is to write a thesis on how important content management is and how many expert practices You should use to be perfect content manager. 

You will find a lot in Atlassian documentation, Partners blogs (like this), Atlassian Community, and so on.

Lurk there. Get new thingies. And follow what I wrote above.

My job is to make You kick-start. 

Now.

 

8 comments

Wow! I love this article. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Like # people like this

Thanks for that! And please, use it as you wish, if it serves you. 

I love this article! (and I'm not even a developer or coder) This is life-good advice!  Especially for, well Everyone! You lured me in with " I can see You smiling now. " (your great story grabber...wait, what am I smiling about? Then...had me totally hooked at #2 - "Don't be afraid of judgement."  I was pasting #2 into an email to send to my private collection of good to great, but finally just gave in to pasting the entire thing, as it is all brilliantly stated.  Kuddos!

Like # people like this

Thx, Kit. Just a hint - it will be here for a minute or two, so you can get back to it.

Like Kat Warner {TechTime} likes this
Kesha Thill Atlassian Team Feb 01, 2019

Wow @PJ Wysota - a great article!! My favorite points were "make it a real story" and "don't be afraid to make mistakes" - I couldn't agree more! When I first joined Atlassian I was TERRIFIED to start creating content because everyone could see everything! And then once I started it was so fun! It connects you to other experts in the business, let's you work with people you never thought you would because they happened to come across something you wrote, let's you share your own expertise, and let's you be a little social at work :)

Along the story line, Atlassian is basically a company of story tellers and bloggers - we blog about EVERYTHING internally, from vacations we've taken to the failure of an experiment we ran so we can share the learnings with the rest of the company. The story component is truly so valuable!

Like PJ Wysota likes this

Thanks, @Kesha Thill!

I work with Atlassiana tools 9 years now, so part of it's DNA also made its way into mine I think.

Like Kesha Thill likes this

Wow, this is super clear article! 

@PJ Wysota  Thanks for you work!

Like PJ Wysota likes this
  • Wow ! Very nice to hear,  my dream is to travel to Canada live and looking for a better job, getting married to a good woman and settled down 

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