Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Get the Most out of Corporate Wikis

In my post last week, we've seen how American Airlines utilizes micro blogging strategies and how other organizations can deploy them. If you don't already know, American Airlines is a major U.S. airline with a fleet of 605 aircrafts, flying an average of 275,000 customers daily to over 250 destinations.

Today, I'll be sharing about corporate wikis and some implementation strategies which can help organizations like American Airlines to delve deeper in using more Enterprise 2.0 tools to boost its internal activities.

For the past few years, more organisations are jumping onboard to use corporate wikis. This is to enhance collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Other advantages of corporate wikis includes keeping information organized, avoiding email overload, and building consensus.

To get the most out of corporate wikis, the Society for Information Management's Advanced Practices Council (APC) has came up with 7 strategies for implementing a successful corporate wiki. Two of the most important strategies among these which American Airlines could employ are "assigning a champion to each wiki" and "convincing people to edit others' work".

Assigning a Wiki Champion
Research has proven that when it comes to trying out new things, people often would take a step back to observe before diving into it. Many times, there will need to be someone who sets the pace and shows everyone that this new technology has its benefits. This would then prompt others to follow suit.

This same concept also applies to corporate wikis. A champion has to be assigned to corporate wikis to encourage more people to use the wiki. As a wiki's strength is highly reliant on its amount of users, it is very important that the Champion does a good job.

Characteristics of a quality Wiki Champion are as follow:
  • Trustworthy - They are known to have a good knowledge of new technologies and other would feel comfortable when trusting what this person says.
  • Has Impact - What this person says and does can influence others to follow
  • Communicator - Can communicate ideas across different people from different level of the organisation.
  • Passionate - This individual should be passionate about using the wiki to enhance collaboration among other staff. You can't encourage others to do something if you don't believe in it yourself.

Be a Wiki Champion that takes the lead

With this list of characteristics as a guide, organisations looking to improve the usage of their corporate wikis should appoint a Wiki Champion to lead others and shape them to use the corporate wiki.

Convincing People to Edit Others' Work
Another key to maintaining a good wiki is to get people to edit and add unto the existing work of others. This is important because most people have certain fears of using these corportate wikis. These fears often are caused by speculation and lack of knowledge of wikis. Few of the most popular myths are:
  • "I'm not going to edit this because I don't want him to be offended" - One thing employees need to realize is that there is actually nobody who will be offended by what they edit. If at any time someone's information get's erased, wikis can actually be restored to previous versions to retrieve what has been written. Also, everyone who uses the wiki will have the same intention of building the page that has complete information. Therefore people will definitely not be offended if some of their previous work has been changed.
  • "I'm afraid what I add won't be useful enough" - Again, the whole point of a wiki is to build pages that has complete set of useful information. Any detail that can be added to these pages are always more than welcome. Besides, if it is deemed wrong or not useful, someone would edit it and may even build upon what you have already added.
These myths should be busted to ensure that nothing prevents the wikis from achieving its full potential. Organizations can also seek the help of their Wiki Champions or department managers to help dismiss these myths.

Final Thoughts: 
Besides these strategies, one should also exercise their corporate wiki's full potential and keep their organisation up-to-date. This can be further done by integrating the wiki into it's IT collaboration architecture, understanding the wiki "rules of conduct", embeding small software programs, and also by using wikis in suitable work cultures. For more details on these, feel free to visit Adrian and Blake's posts.

Organisations better not be left behind in ancient times.


  1. Hi Zeng,

    You have introduced wiki's in corporations in very concise and good depth. Thank you for such an informative and interesting post. However, can you think of any organizations that used wiki's and benefited from it ?

    Meanwhile, please feel free to come to my blog and comment on my posts too at

    1. Hi Cal,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Though it wasn't my main focus, there are many examples of organizations using wikis and gaining from it.

      One of it is Hinchcliffe & Company which implemented a wiki and now the company now saves one to two minutes per call at $20 per minute.

      Someo of the many others companies who has experienced this are VistPrint, Pixar, and Coca-cola. :)

  2. Hi

    I've never heard of a Wiki Champion till now, it's an interesting way to get other people motivated. I guess it's like having a team or project leader for the wiki, someone to guide the way, show how things are done and essentially get the ball rolling.

    i like the concept, excellent idea


    1. Hi David. You are absolutely right! Many times we need people to show us the way and give us some encouragement every now and then. :)

  3. Hi Zeng,

    Your post about Wiki champion is really accurate!
    I like you style of writing and the information you consisted.
    Good job