Monday, September 21, 2009

What are wizards and why are they useful?

Every now and then someone new to gStepOne asks “What is a wizard and why are they useful?" and "Why would gStepOne be valuable to my organisation?".

What is a Wizard?
A wizard is a procedure or process that has been recorded and converted into an interactive helper using computer software. It is designed to guide users down preset paths, providing the knowledge and the tools needed for them to produce a specific outcome. It does not do the task for the user; it enables the user to complete a task the way the task expert usually does it.

Why are Wizards valuable?
To understand the value of a wizard we must first understand the two types of knowledge always present in organisations: Tacit Knowledge (the kind we carry in our heads) and Explicit Knowledge (knowledge that has been written down or codified in some way so that it can be shared with others). For an organisation to survive and prosper, it must be constantly converting its tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge.

This is because in most organisations, creative people are constantly developing new techniques and processes in response to changes in their environment. When first developed, these new and valuable assets are available only as tacit knowledge. For the organisation to get value from this new knowledge, it must make it transferrable to all staff as soon as possible: it must make it explicit.

A wizard is the perfect example of explicit knowledge – knowledge that has not only been codified but transformed into an interactive guide so that untrained staff can do the task like the expert.

That’s why wizards are so valuable to an organisation.

Before wizards.

After wizards.

Why would gStepOne be valuable to my organisation?
In the past, wizards have been hard-coded by programmers in consultation with the expert, using either specialist programming languages, or macros in products like MS Excel. Development was slow and expensive, and even the smallest change required another session (or sessions) with another programmer. gStepOne has changed all this. Experts can do it themselves. They need no programming skills to create or modify a wizard. Wizards can be created within a few hours, tested and released within days.

So, why is gStepOne so valuable? gStepOne is key infrastructure; it supports the continuous conversion of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge within an organisation.

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