I won’t be digressing too far away if I dare to say that Wiki is one of the most famous, or at-least one of the most talked about technological innovation of the Web 2.0 era. Wiki’s inception can be traced back to eleven years. But despite the good amount of popularity that it boasts of, it is being misconstrued by many. This is not only the case with the individuals who fail to appreciate the true features of Wiki, but surprisingly many enterprises have grossly misunderstood the concept of Wiki and the implications that it can have for them. This is of significance not only from the point of view of understanding the technology to make proper use of it, but also garner realistic expectations from the same.
Let’s look into the various myths that are associated with Wiki use in an enterprise. These are important from the point of view of organizations that look forward to implement Wiki to foster greater collaboration and information sharing among the employees:
1. Wiki implementation and employee motivation are directly proportional:
Let us first assume that this hypothesis is true. In that case once you have implemented Wiki in your organization you should be able to see it zip off with un-hurdled pace. Many organizations make this assumption as they generally take a myopic look into the new technology adaptation process by the employees. And this is not just the case with Wiki. In general there existed a myth, since quite long and it still exist in some of the cases that by adopting a technology the organization has done its job as far as providing motivation to employees are concerned and the results will emerge simply out of the adaptation process. Secondly, they also tend to draw parallel with successful examples like the Wikipedia, which boast of millions of articles in its ambit. They tend to get the perspective that a similar outcome awaits them.
Unfortunately the reality is starkly different. Thus we come across many situations where the much hyped Wiki implementation ends with a mere faint blip. Going forward let’s look at why this failure occurs:
(a) Firstly, the philosophy on which Wiki is based on is collaboration without much hackle. Many enterprises fail to live up to this philosophy and try to bring in a process of approvals and reviews of the content to be posted. This act as a block because it kills the idea of free sharing of content and also makes the employees skeptical about the veracity of the content which they intend to post. An organizational set up definitely needs a fair amount of control on the content in the Wiki but it should also keep in mind the above facts and come with a more open process to foster the use of Wiki by the employees. As said by many behavioral scientists, employees tend to behave in a responsible way when the grip around their neck is not tightened to the extent of suffocation. So, if organizations want to encourage the internal stakeholders with respect to Wiki use, they need to let them loose.
(b) Sometimes the prevalent culture in the enterprise also acts as a barrier to the adoption of a technology like Wiki. If an organization has a closed culture where people tend to be reluctant in sharing information in public domain. It becomes difficult for the enterprise to make Wiki a success.
A few ways in which the above problems can be sorted out are:
- Free up Wiki use from stringent process steps.
- Highlight the presence of Wiki through various forums like intranet sites etc.
- Make significant contributions to start with to impress upon the employees the significance of Wiki to the organization’s goal of collaboration for information sharing.
2. Wiki use is easy, so it would be used by all:
Most organizations presume that employees will start using Wiki the moment it is launched. Buoyed by the learning about the ease of use of Wiki they tend to associate quick adoption of the technology by the employees.
But there is more to the story than this. Yes! Wiki use is easy and it is being one of the selling points of the technology. But still it needs a bit of learning and adaptability. And thus it requires a bit of time and effort.
Although it is easy to learn but no one can deny the training needs for adapting to the technology. Many things like way you link a page, the way you create a new page etc needs to be learned. Further Wiki is not as user friendly as it portrays to be, so there again adaption process takes time.
In an enterprise environment the importance of learning the right way to leverage the true potential of Wiki use is all the more significant. Hence it all requires a bit of time and collaboration from the organization to make it happen the way they want it to be.
3. You get what you want:
People tend to believe that Wiki would at all time act as a source of relevant and updated information. However it has been proved many a times that this surely is a myth, and the reason for the same are innumerous.
a. Lack of structure for storing information: When the size of the information increases beyond a critical mass, it becomes very difficult to arrange all the information into a particular structure if it has not been followed from the onset.
b. Incapable search functionalities: Most of the search functionality in Wiki is not capable enough to bring out the best results for the search. This problem is predominant when the information size in the Wiki increases. It is also fallout of the lack of structure of the way information is stored in Wiki.
c. Risk of redundant information: In case there is no proper structure and process for the storage of information entry into the Wiki, it might lead to exponential growth of information and thus result in possibility of redundant information. It also makes the search process weak. The following figure depicts the increasing risk of the information redundancy and Wiki ineffectiveness with increase in information with time.
d.Lack of sustained efforts from the organization to maintain the Wiki: Organizations need to have dedicated people maintaining the Wiki for them. This ensures that a proper structure is maintained for feeding information into Wiki. The need for a professional maintaining the Wiki becomes more important with time as the volume of information increases.
So the moral of the story, although Wiki is an effective and easy way of collaboration, but it still needs sustained efforts from the implementer to really make it do the wonders it promises. Another important lesson is that although Wiki is an unconventional way of doing things but the problems that beset Wiki are the very much known and existed with the conventional technologies as well. For enhancing the probability of making a Wiki project successful all that is needed is to keep in mind the whole philosophy behind the technology i.e. “Openness and collaboration”.