Josh Breiger

Business Lessons From NSA’s “Ask Amy”

Recently there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the NSA. But not for why you might suspect. Through the Edward Snowden leaks, it was revealed that the NSA had their own version of “Ask Amy” called “Ask Zelda.” Employees of the NSA could anonymously write into Zelda and ask personal workplace questions. Zelda gives advice in subjects such as confronting coworkers with inappropriate attire or the annoying coworker who is always taking food from the fridge. Ask Zelda was a big success, becoming a popular read inside the NSA.

Clearly, a place to share questions and discuss problems is important to a corporation. Often either employees do not know about or have access to a place to voice their concerns. Without an appropriate place to voice their concerns, negative feelings will never be shared and discussed. One way to combat this is a question and answer format which gives employees a place to ask questions or discuss problems. Through a Q & A layout, “Ask Zelda” served as the NSA’s psychologist who addressed personal office problems.

Social business question and answer platforms have a different setup and purpose than “Ask Zelda,” but also help with personal problems. As opposed to one person giving answers as with “Zelda,” a social business Q & A means everyone contributes. This leads to increased morale and cooperation. Social business Q & A facilitates consistent interactions with coworkers and a shared common goal. Just working and collaborating together leads to a higher level of comfort between employees and better job performance.

Although social business Q & A can prevent personal problems, the ultimate goal is to allow companies to efficiently solve business problems. Social business Q & A’s ability to let everyone contribute helps with this. Obviously, the “Ask Zelda” format with only one person answering questions is not practical because no one knows everything. To best put the puzzle pieces of a company together, everyone must contribute the piece of the puzzle they know the most about. Along with employees contributing their expertise, the best running organizations are also able to link experts with learners.

Senexx’s Solvepath is a great example of a social business Q & A software which can do this. Solvepath allows you to tag the appropriate expert to help with your problem. Even if you don’t know the correct expert or subject to tag, Solvepath can create tags for you. The correct expert can quickly be brought in to answer the appropriate question. Because Solvepath matches the expert with the learner so efficiently, company difficulties are discussed and solved productively and rapidly.

The other advantage a business has with a social Q & A is the ability to help users find relevant information promptly. “Zelda” is only able to answer a few questions every time her column comes out. On the other hand, Solvepath instantly allows users to efficiently browse through huge amounts of information to find the appropriate answer. Solvepath has the ability to search a continually updating massive Q & A database as well as existing data sources. This information can either answer a user’s question, or if not, set a precedent for how to best address the problem. Solvepath give businesses a tool for information to be accessed quickly and accurately.

Although “Ask Zelda” might be a good company psychologist, corporations need a different type of Q & A to share business questions and concerns. Senexx’s Solvepath social Q & A format provides this space to allow companies to effectively solve problems.