Wicked Wikis!

3 Oct

Today we keep on investigating how web 2.0 tools can help companies improve their businesses. Do you remember that last week I talked about microblogging and how it could help improve corporate collaboration? Well, time to discover what else the mysterious world of web technology has to offer. I will again illustrate my statements using  Air Services as an example. Through my different posts you will therefore be able to see how all these tools can actually work together to come up with a real Web 2.0 implementation plan for this company.

Ready? Let’s talk about Wikis!

Yes, Wiki as in Wikipedia, which I know we all are familiar with. I’m sure that each of us have at least once use Wikipedia to find out about the Tajikistan’s population, Justin Bieber’s discography or the history of the creation of the corkscrew. No? Ok maybe I’m curious about weird things, but it doesn’t matter what you are looking for, you can find it on Wikipedia. As far as I’m confident that you all use it, do you actually know how this website works? Where do all these pages of information come from?

Wikipedia is simply one example of what a Wiki is: A wiki is a website that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own web browser. Through a collaborative effort of the site visitors, pages are created, text and images are added, link to other pages are included, creating this huge database of knowledge that anyone can edit.

Some advantages of Wikis are that:

  • Contributions are made by a big number of people with different perspectives, making the content rich.
  • The quality of the content is high since contributors are incentivized to share helpful and relevant information otherwise their edit will be deleted by other users.
  • The wiki can grow very fast since the number of contributors can be huge.
  • Wikis are flexible and easy to use.

Because of the flexibility of this tool, Wikis can be used by organisation in many ways:

  • Managing meetings and calendar
  • Knowledge management
  • File archivage
  • Brainstorming and innovative thinking
  • Reference material and operations guide
I am going to focus on the latter use of Wikis.
Air Services is operated by 3 different teams that works together to insure safe and sound air traffic:
  • Air Traffic Control manages Australia’s airspace
  • Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting solves a wide range of incidents from medical emergencies to fire fighting
  • Projects & Engineering designs, develops and maintain technological systems

Because Air Services business is highly specialized, a set of procedures is linked to each team. It is critical that each team working on similar tasks are kept in sync and follow the same guidelines to achieve maximum efficiency and coherence.I would therefore recommend Air Services to set up a Wiki per department, stating a procedure check-list, an operations manual or any other instructions related to their job.The goal here is to simply write down the recipe of the department success.

This is even more critical for Air Services as they have to deal with the issue of an ageing workforce. Indeed, because the business is specialized, a high proportion of employees have a long career in the organization, and today, 67% are older than 40.
Staff retiring raises the problem of passing on knowledge to new recruits, and training them, which can really be time-consuming. Having a well written procedure guide already in place can speed up this process.
The manual can then be used as a reference material that guide employees towards doing a better job. If anyone doesn’t know what they need to do or how to do it, they can simply refer to the procedure guide.
Why use a wiki to do so?
Nobody really likes writing procedures manuals. It’s boring we know that. But what if everyone collaborated, writing down specifics as they do them, in the area of their expertise. Way easier don’t you think?
The flexibility of the wiki is also perfect should procedures evolve and updates be needed.
Still not convinced that it is the right tool?
Ok here are 2 more arguments: If  you are afraid of making a mistake in writing a procedure down, don’t worry you can track the history of all modifications and go back to a previous version of the manual.
And last but not least: it’s FREE!

As usual I will finish this post by providing some takeaways for a successful implementation of the new tool:
  • Use one unique wiki software. There is no need wasting time  training different people in using different wiki softwares.
  • As for every web 2.0 tool, TRAINING is key. Don’t expect people to spontaneously use a tool they are unfamiliar with. You need to lead them to use it slowly over time.
  • To avoid the risk of misuse of the wiki, the editing option should be made available only to registered members of the company. However, no moderation is needed. It is important to select who can participate in the wiki but the selected contributors should be trusted.
Do you know any company that are already using wikis in this way?

Feel free to read my team related posts about how Airservices can use wikis to:
manage knowledge (Andrew)

REFERENCES:
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9 Responses to “Wicked Wikis!”

  1. PrapatW October 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM #

    Good read Aurelie, you have explain me clearly what Wiki is and some keys aspect to use Wiki successfully. I really like Wiki as a tool for information sharing within company. I’ve often fix the same problem over and over until I don’t want to do that anymore. Sometime people don’t want to remember don’t want to learn and push their problem for others to solve since it’s easier that way. Now they have a Wiki to consult which could help people like me to have less headache and have more free time to do something else.

    Cheers,

    Prapat W.

    • aureliequt October 8, 2012 at 10:24 PM #

      Hi Prapat!

      I agree a wiki with guidelines of procedures will reduce the workload of people, who like you, are taken advantage of because of others laziness. However, I think that personal support with “real” people is still needed in case of some unexpected problems that never happened before and that need a tailored response. The incident can then be added to the wiki guidelines to grow a database, as complete as possible.

      Nice having a loyal reader around here 😉

      Aurélie

  2. paulbrouard October 7, 2012 at 8:51 PM #

    Hi Aurelie,

    Good post as usual 😉 I think everybody has in mind that a wiki can be modified by anyone who can access it and you do well to specify in your strategy that only the registered members of the company should have access to the editing option. It may sound obvious but I think it is worth telling.
    If you are looking for similar use of wikis by companies go check this link its quite informative :
    http://www.stewartmader.com/7-effective-wiki-uses-and-the-companies-that-benefit-from-them/

    Keep up good work!

    See you soon,
    Paul 😉

    • aureliequt October 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM #

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for dropping by! I like the link you posted and all the concrete examples that this article provides. Maybe it is what is missing in some of my post.
      Thank you for sharing anyway.

      Cheers,

      Aurélie.

  3. Andrew Madden October 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM #

    Hey it’s interesting about the ageing work force that Air Services has. It’s also an interesting idea using a wiki as a user manual. It would surely speed up the creation process that it would take to write an official manual as the members from different departments could just write it all at once instead of one person going around to everybody and asking them to write a section. The only potential problems I see is there might be too much information for new employees if they feel they have to sort through all of it. However it would work perfectly as a manual when people have trouble. The only other thing is you might need to restrict editing access to only people who have been in the company for a while. Good post!

    • aureliequt October 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM #

      Hi Andrew,

      Yes, the ageing workforce is a real problem for Airservices who are in great need of hiring new employees with a high level of expertise.
      This is especially hard for them in today’s changing world of work, where new generations are less likely to consider a job for life and far more likely to pursue a number of careers throughout their lifetime.

      Thanks for pointing out that restrict editing needs to be added to the implementation of my strategy. Of course only the people with the adequate level of expertise will be able to write these guidelines and this only in their job area.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Aurélie

  4. 33mjb October 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM #

    Hi Aurelie,
    I like you ideas on how the wiki can be used internally to allow employees to collaborate and store knowledge which can be accessed by newer employees. I also agree with your point about training – without the training, only the most savvy users will use the Wiki, leaving the general workforce behind. How would you suggest that the company approach the training – through a structured program company-wide, or through ad-hoc demos to specific user groups? Feel free to check out my blog too!

    Cheers, Michael

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Keep calm and wiki on : Introducing wikis at Airservices ? | enterprise 2.0 - October 3, 2012

    […] or outside the company. Introducing a wiki at Airservices Australia would for example facilitate knowledge management, publication of rostering calendar, communication with external providers and, in our example, […]

  2. Wikis for enhanced collaboration with external parties – Airservices case study part II « inn346qut - October 4, 2012

    […] check my other team members posts out: wikis & rosters, wikis & shift changes, wikis & knowledge management, wikis & adoption strategies. (c) […]

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