Corporate Managers And Wikis

Whenever we think of collaboration and community built documentation, I believe there is no other form best suitable than wikis. Along with religious patronage by Open source communities and new web2.0 entrepreneurs, many Small businesses started adapting Wikis as an integral part of collaboration platforms. Applications like Jotspot (acquired by Google) makes it lot easier for anybody to get started. I heard that a few corporates are giving it a try too.

I love the concept of Wikis and its underlying power of simple and yet powerful collaboration for any kind of enterprise small or big. Wikis are particularly important for virtual teams, where team members are physically distributed throughout the world and there is a need for a precise and lots of coordination required. But it looks like its a long way to go before wikis are accepted. Still many corporate managers are very reluctant to accept wiki, some even to give it a try.

The management at my workplace has decided that we (a workforce in 9 different countries) have to use a new Configuration management system. The documentation prepared by SCM Admin team has lots of holes and users are struggling to get it working. So, I requested to start wiki page where all users can contribute their experiences, comments, tips and tricks and ofcourse workarounds.  Instead, SCM team wanted all to copy them on emails with workarounds and suggestions so that they could update the document and release a new version every now and then.  Key reasons for rejecting wiki idea are :

  1. Its against the Company procedures and Quality processes. Should always have a document stored in a repository with a certain number. [Process]
  2. It is very difficult for SCM team to monitor changes as they SUSPECT that information added by Users will not be accurate. [Control]
  3. Emails is still a much better form of communication and collaboration tool than wikis. [Change]

After  a few hours of discussions and attempts to explain why wiki is a much better form of collaboration for the given situation, I gave up as we reached a certain point where 'reasoning' or logic stopped making any sense. The "authority" replaced the "logic" instead.

Knowing what Wikis can do and knowing political reasons for how a Corporate chooses its tools, I can't hope to see wikis in mainstream corporates any sooner than expected.


Priya Pai said…
I very much agree and support the idea of wiki. I have recently used pmwiki (thanks to the efforts of open source contributors in developing pmwiki) to set up a non-profit organization website named 'Pudiyador'.
The layout can be customized as per ones needs, and the level of admin rights to edit, view history, and other collaborative actions can be controlled in the config file settings.

Well, we used wiki here, to save the Pudiyador web admin from understanding details of HTML and other markup languages to maintain the site.

There are tons of wikis developed in various languages, and most of them are free ... open source projects. Some fully developed, some under beta version.

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