Friday, September 4, 2009

Wikis ...

One of the blogs i follow is Grow Your Wiki, by Stewart Mader. Stewart has some wonderful ideas about wikis, the role they play in organizations, and the way they could deliver value in organizations. In his latest post, Stewart talks about specific problems which can be solved with wikis. Here, he refers to the post by Andrew McAfee where he discusses Enterprise 2.0, looking at specific scenarios where social computing tools can be used to meet specific business requirements.

One of the things Andrew talks about is:

Problem: How can we bring new hires up to speed as quickly as possible so that they become effective employees and stop bugging people with all their questions?

Use a wiki. Office supply company VistaPrint initiated a wiki in an attempt to capture what a new engineering hire needed to know. Because this knowledge base changed so quickly, the company felt that any peper-based solution would quickly become obsolete. Within 18 months the wiki grew to contain over 11,000 pages placed into 600 categories, all of them generated by employees themselves rather than a professional knowledge management staff. It became a dynamic and up-to-date repository of the company's engineering knowledge.

A question which comes up from here, though, is whether the company is letting all employees write on the wiki. Or whether only people with a specific level of experience, and coming from a specific technical background are allowed to write on this wiki. One would probably think latter. Few of the organizations i interact with have a scenario where wikis are written by a set of people, for use by all. From this, one can see that the benefit of a wiki is that it is dynamic, that unlike a document, it doesnt become obsolete (thats assuming participation levels are appropriate).

What this means is that maybe a true wiki is not the appropriate solution, for a large number of scenarios. Something i have blogged about before. The idea is that authorship for these wikis may not necessarily be with all. A specific set of people write, and anyone can read. This seems to be the model which finds more acceptance within the organization. Somewhat like the knol. So where does the participation come from? Usually, team wikis could have everyone from the team participating, but not so corporate wikis. Collaboration, here, could follow the path of the discussion forum, which is why, i guess, some software providers give functionality for discussion forums attached to wiki pages.

This brings to the question of which are finding greater acceptance ... corporate wikis, or team wikis? Could you please participate on the poll you see?

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