Preposterous you say. There’s nothing scary about a Wiki. It’s just another way to present information via a browser. Oh how people miss the point. In my previous article, Making Wikis Work – Part 1, I discussed how a Wiki can be a powerful tool to both document and communicate tacit knowledge.
Fear, The Great Inhibitor
Despite the most enthusiastic IT management or the tireless efforts of champion contributors, it seems that Wikis are just too scary for mere mortals. My own first-hand experience when people are actually asked to contribute has seen a barrage of reasons such as:
What if I break it?
What if I lose everything?
What if I do something wrong?
What if I get some facts wrong?
What if I upset someone?
What if I can’t write?
What if I am seen to be wasting time and not doing my job?
What if, what if, what if!? It’s way too scary for me. I am sure that someone else will do it instead!
Addressing and alleviating these fears is not a simple problem. New contributors can be further intimidated by seasoned contributors adding to their fear.
Knowledge Community and Trust
All of the issues raised in my ‘What if?’ points can be managed through Wiki tools and procedural guidelines. On an intellectual level you can argue away any fear a new contributor chooses to announce, yet still the fear remains. In order to make the significant shift from being an information consumer to being a knowledge sharer, the following seven ideas must be impressed intellectually, emotionally and culturally.
1. I do have something valuable to share.
2. I will put my contributions where I think they should be based on others’ work.
3. I do trust my peers to fix any mistakes I make and offer constructive suggestions.
4. I will not take personally any changes made by others to my contributions.
5. When making changes to the contributions of others I will always be respectful, and ensure the value of the original contribution is not diminished.
6. The knowledge shared by others is valuable to me.
7. The knowledge shared in the Wiki belongs to all of my knowledge community.
A plan to educate and encourage new contributors must take on board these seven ideas and get them really entrenched. This will give you the best chance to build a solid knowledge community. The tools and guidelines will then be seen as facilitators, not just business rules.
Finally, a community based on sharing and trust will be one in which no one ever allows ‘What if’ to get in the way of contributing.
Robert Rath – http://www.innovation-mentor.com