When considering use of wikis, CIOs should keep in mind that in reality, a large number of companies may already have employees using wikis for work purposes without the authority to do so. Perhaps a better question than whether unsanctioned use of wikis should be tolerated is: “How and what can be done to ensure employees use wikis productively and for the larger good?”
It’s good to see APC suggesting that CIOs should take existing wiki use as a positive sign, and focus their energy and resources on furthering that use. I think the best approach CIOs can take when they learn of existing wiki use in their organizations is to:
- offer to help groups make sure their wikis are secure
- help break down any technical barriers to widespread wiki use
- promote interconnection between wikis through things like LDAP integration
- and reward the early adopters as a way to spread goodwill and further catalyze growth in wiki use.
Here are seven strategies the APC report recommends for a successful corporate wiki. After each, I’ve linked to appropriate Wiki Patterns from Wikipatterns.com that can help you with each step:
- Integrate the wiki as one of several important tools in an organization’s IT collaboration architecture. (Corporate Directory, Critical Mass, Magnet)
- Understand the wiki “rules of conduct” and ensure they are monitored and enforced. (Wiki Charter)
- Optimize the use of wikis for collaborative knowledge creation across geographically dispersed employees, and for crossing divisional or functional boundaries, in order to gain insights from people not previously connected. (Invitation, BarnRaising)
- Assign a champion to each wiki and have that champion observe contributions that people make to the wiki; the champion will help foster employees who adopt the important “shaper” role within the wiki. (Champion, Maintainer)
- Recognize that the most difficult barrier to cross in sustaining a wiki is convincing people to edit others’ work; organizations should ask their champion and managers to help with this. (Intentional Error, Patron)
- Recognize that a significant value of wikis comes from embedding small software programs into the wiki that structure repetitive behavior. Some include organizing meeting minutes, rolling up project status or scheduling meetings. Ask wiki participants to keep watching for repetitive activity to evolve and enhance wiki technology. (Scaffold, WikiZenMaster)
- Understand wikis are best used in work cultures that encourage collaboration. Without an appropriate fit with the workplace culture, wiki technology will be of limited value in sharing knowledge, ideas and practices. (90-9-1 Theory)
The bottom line: This is an excellent piece of research from APC, and something business wiki users, IT leadership, and CIOs should take seriously. It’s nice to see level-headed thinking that promotes the business value of wiki use!
Check out my new Wikipatterns book – a how-to guide for growing wiki use in organizations with practical advice from a wiki expert.
Here’s what people are saying about the book:
- “Just pre-ordered this from Amazon. Looks to be a good read and an essential tool in any E2.0 evangelist’s tool kit.” – Scott Gavin
- “I love it when this happens, a blog I’ve read for ages (devoured some would say) gets published in book format. Needless to say my copy is already ordered.” – Gordon McLean