Happy birthday NRCan Wiki!

NRCan’s collaborative culture project is two years old today!  This is a time to reflect on how much have we accomplished, and the impact we have had on our internal community. The metrics we have gathered indicate that the NRCan Resource Wiki continues to be a living and breathing collaborative environment: topic pages generated two years ago continue to evolve and change as new authors discover the Wiki and add their contributions.  In a demonstration of our cultural acceptance, some core uses for the Wiki are emerging, including self registration for conferences and training, reference materials for projects, event promotion and task tracking. Also, the transition of content from Intranets to the Wiki is underway, and dashboards for sharing natural resource and other indicators across the department has been effective.   And it’s not just the contributors who are benefitting. We are sharing information faster and more effectively than ever before, as metrics on page views jumped from 1 million in the Wiki’s first year to close to 9 million by the end of the second.

One of the most important contributions of the Wiki has been that it has opened the door for a broad and ongoing discussion about collaboration and collaborative tools. It has made it culturally easier for employees to adopt other tools, such as the use of blogs as communications channels for updates on key activities. With the advent of our internal video sharing site, we are now using video to capture knowledge and training, and NRCan employees are increasingly making use of external tools to reach out and better understand our clients.

But there are two sides to every coin. The Wiki still has lots of room to grow, as it has not yet been adopted as a platform for briefings or for drafting complex documents.  Usually part of a more structured work process, these documents are often perceived as being too risky or too unwieldy to author in a open environment. The Wiki also has a lot of junk lying around. It continues to be a little bit messy, with fragments of dead-end pages never completed. Scientists in the department who tend to work with outside communities cannot yet make optimal use of the internally focussed Wiki, and those who work through peer review processes cannot often work in open environments. 

The lesson we have learned is that even the wonderful Wiki cannot do it all.  This is why it must be part of a broader integrated tool set that includes both social media and other more traditional document authoring tools. With the integration of tools across the board, it is important – now more than ever – to understand how things connect, and when to use which tool.

A senior policy committee recently described the Wiki as surprisingly rich in content. This speaks both to the accomplishments of the Wiki, and to the fact that we still has much to attain. Culture change is a slow burn but we continue to be optimistic, and we are continually surprised at the inventive and interesting uses of NRCan’s collaborative tools. While some are moving faster than others, it is clear that we are moving down the road to innovation together.

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One Response to Happy birthday NRCan Wiki!

  1. Peter,

    Regarding your comment –

    “The lesson we have learned is that even the wonderful Wiki cannot do it all. This is why it must be part of a broader integrated tool set that includes both social media and other more traditional document authoring tools. With the integration of tools across the board, it is important – now more than ever – to understand how things connect, and when to use which tool.”

    You’re absolutely right – the wiki is a platform for collaboration really, a new tool or system. Engaging people around using the tool in effective and applied and relevant ways is essential. But it’s more than that. It’s about building a ‘community’ of folks who share multiple and varied interests, that others can connect to, and strengthen their own interest areas and relationships. We’ve found this to be a very effective means of growing and sustaining the WikiEducator community – a global open source community of 12,000 educators from 110 countries around the globe. Moreover, the ‘community’ has given birth to numerous other communities, with a specific learning focus – shall I say action learning focus – which supports and reinforces the whole, but also increases the likelihood of stakeholder buy-in, ownership and achievement of project outcomes.

    I’d be happy to share ideas any time!

    – Randy

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