A Wiki is a collaborative platform for online information creation. Wikipedia is a classic example of the impetus created through the successful use of wikis as an online information resource.
Three Reasons why wikis are important to an organisation
1. Everyone can participate: Wikis challenge hierarchies through the easy flow of information. Good ideas can come from anywhere within the organisation and wikis let everyone participate and help the best ideas to emerge. Wikis make it easy for large number of people to collaborate.
2. Centralised storage of information for your organisation: The wiki is a repository of your organisation’s knowledge. All of your oganisation’s information such as meeting notes, legal documents, project collaboration and staff photos should be stored on the wiki to enable information to be easily located.
3. Low cost: There are many high quality and free open-source wikis available. TWiki and WikiMatrix provide an easy way to learn about the many wikis available.
The case study organisation is a Brisbane based non-profit organisation. One of the challenges faced by this organisation is how to develop wikis with an active community of users.
Wikis can be used with great flexibility by anyone in any way for collaboration, knowledge sharing and to promote a cause. The following ideas contained in an article by Techsoup can be used by our case study organisation to help build a community:
- Begin by scheduling a meeting with major stakeholders, board members and key staff members to demonstrate how the wiki will be used and help them understand how powerful a wiki can be in your organisation. Get major stakeholders, board members and key staff members excited about the technology.
- Ensure that the wiki has content that’s relevant to everyone, including volunteers and coordinators.
- Post detailed instructions on the wiki explaining how to perform common tasks such as editing pages, uploading images, and formatting sites to assist with staff with becoming proficient at using the wiki.
- To further encourage new users to embrace the wiki, use the site’s RSS feeds to monitor when new pages have been created. When a user adds a new entry to the wiki, go to the page to offer advice and encouragement to the poster or simply answer questions.
- Empower your community to develop its own way of thinking, structuring space and working on content. This should ensure less resistance because people can decide who best to work together and the space will remain active and the content recent over time.
Some implementation tactics our case study organisation could use are:
- Start with a hosted wiki (the one you do not have to install on your own server but can go to a website and sign-up for monthly service plan).
- If/when you need more functionality and flexibility, use commercially developed and supported software, such as Confluence.
- Confluence is a wiki tool that has features designed to enhance knowledge sharing. Confluence has a range of access controls that supports the security sensitive information. Correct policy and common sense in the organisation is one means of mitigating the risk of sensitive information being released by an employee. The advantages of implementing knowledge sharing not only internally but externally can outweigh any proposed risk.
- Select a specific project involving a small team who have urgent need for collaboration.
- Nominate a project leader who has experience with using wikis.
Finally, learn and share.
CARE is a global non-profit organisation working to eradicate poverty. They use Wikispaces Private Label as a platform for members to communicate, collaborate, and share best practices. They have many wikis on their site, including:
- A knowledge café where individuals share best practices for engaging the cultures and communities in which they work
- A wiki where they train their global members and volunteers in emergency preparedness and response
- Various wikis designed by groups of employees interested in bringing new capacities to the organisation
- Wikis developed for strategic planning, improving their organisation, and measuring the impact of their various projects and initiatives.