Grow Your Wiki

Wiki Adoption Strategy

stewart_speakingThe key to a successful wiki in your organization is effective adoption. Give people guidance to set their goals, training to get comfortable with the wiki, and time to build it into their daily practice. If they’re pleased with the results, they’ll catalyze further adoption by spreading the word to their peers.

Stewart has led or advised wiki, content management system, and course management system rollouts in Fortune 500 companies, R&D organizations, law firms, nonprofit organizations, universities, and small and mid-size companies. Here’s how he can help you:

Strategy Sessions and Program Development

First, we’ll bring all the stakeholders in your wiki project together, gather background knowledge on wiki use at your organization, address any questions or concerns about wiki use, and plan the strategy, time frame and goals for adoption.

Choose the Right Software

Based on your organization’s size, budget, and the type of activities your wiki needs to support, we’ll evaluate and test several tools. I’ll make recommendations based on an assessment of the above criteria. I only recommend tools that I’ve previously used, and have complete confidence both in the quality of the tool itself, and the soundness of the company behind it.


  Topic Audience
  Your Wiki isn’t Wikipedia: 6 Ways to Use it at Work Everyone
  BarnRaising Workshop Everyone
  Effective Project Management Using a Wiki Everyone
  Collaborative Course Development Using a Wiki Training & HR Staff
  Onboarding: getting your new employees cleared for takeoff Team Leaders, HR Staff
  Manage Research Workflow with a Wiki Research & Development
  Wiki Nitty Gritty: Naming Conventions, Request Procedure & Retention Policy Technical Staff, System Administrators

Your Wiki Isn’t Wikipedia: 6 Ways to Use it at Work

What’s the best way to grow wiki use at work? Should you even call it a “wiki”? What are the best uses? Who are the best promoters?
We’ll explore:

  • The business value and ROI of wikis
  • How to make the case for using a wiki in your group or team
  • How to encourage participation
  • Build excitement and drive adoption using examples of current wiki success
  • How wikis can positively impact an organization’s culture
  • How wikis “fit” with other business tools like SharePoint, blogs, content management systems, and email

BarnRaising Workshop

The best way for groups to get started using a wiki is a BarnRaising. I conduct these workshops, and the benefit to groups is threefold:

  1. Everyone Starts Together. Getting everyone together at the start is important because it lets everyone know that everyone else is starting from the same base level of experience. This creates a support structure that lasts long after the BarnRaising, and ensures that no one is left out.
  2. Wiki with a Purpose. A BarnRaising lets people step back and look at their daily routines so they can identify regular tasks, pain points, and inefficiencies that can be improved by using a wiki.
  3. The Barn Wiki Gets Built. People start building out their wiki during the BarnRaising. When people go back to their busy lives having already started using the wiki, they’re much more likely to continue using it.

Effective Project Management Using a Wiki

Teams can use a wiki to organize and work on critical documents and project plans. It lets people work more efficiently between face to face meetings and becomes a magnet for all the information relevant to a project.

This workshop will show you how to:

  • Organize your project on a wiki
  • Help your team make the change from trading emails and attachments to gathering, building, and editing information on the wiki
  • Manage everything related to the project, including background research, notes, URLs, timesheets, meetings agendas & minutes, action items, and finished documents, presentations, and files

Onboarding: getting your new employees cleared for takeoff

When you board an airplane, the airline needs to communicate a certain amount of information to you and all the other passengers to get everyone working together toward the same goal: taking off on time and having a productive flight.

When new employees start their jobs, you need to communicate a certain amount of information to new employees to get everyone working together toward the same goals: successfully completing projects, releasing products, meeting the organization’s goals.

This is where a wiki comes in. When an organization has a wiki at the center of its operations, people can gather and share the kind of information that others need - including everything from projects, products, initiatives, strategies, and other pieces of the big picture, to the everyday: how to process an expense report, access the office WiFi network, get business cards printed, or reserve a meeting room.

This workshop will show you how to use a wiki to get new employees onboard, introduced to their teams, and involved in projects so they can make meaningful contributions more quickly.

Collaborative Course Development Using a Wiki

Wiki is gaining traction in education, as an ideal tool for increasing communication and collaboration among teachers, and as a platform for teaching students valuable collaboration skills.

This workshop will show you how to use a wiki to collaboratively author the structure and curriculum of a course. Working together enables you and your colleagues to:

  • Build better, more comprehensive materials
  • Create a durable set of curriculum materials that can be reused and improved
  • Get input from everybody who will teach a course
  • Improve consistency of teaching across multiple sections

We’ll also explore how students can use the wiki to collaborate on a group report, compile data or share the results of their research. When your students use a wiki, you have greater ability to interact with them, answer questions, give feedback throughout the process, which helps them stay on track and produce a better finished product.

This workshop is based on a paper I wrote on this method in 2006, and presented to the Higher Ed BlogCon: The Science of Spectroscopy: Collaborative Curriculum Development Using a Wiki

Manage Research Workflow with a Wiki

Do you want to keep track of progress in your research group, but don’t have time to talk with each researcher individually? Do you collaborate with colleagues at other institutions, but find it difficult to get papers written and ready for publication because of the complexities of trying to share documents over email?

Learn how a wiki can be the hub of knowledge for your research or R&D group. This workshop shows you how to use a wiki at all stages of research:

  1. Virtual lab notebook Record information like experiment design, lab notes, and data, and share it within your group.
  2. Group Meetings Make meetings shorter and more focused. People can see the status of projects and experiments on the wiki, then use meetings just to discuss issues that need in-person discussion.
  3. Publications Whether they’re in the next building, city, or country, your co-authors can easily access the wiki and efficiently write papers together without trading email attachments and getting versions mixed up.

Wiki Nitty Gritty: Naming Conventions, Request Procedure & Retention Policy

This workshop outlines the essential best practices for administering your wiki that enables you to streamline and manage the creation of new wiki spaces, keep in contact with space owners, and ensure that content stays fresh. I’ll show you how to:

  • Brand your wiki with your logo and color scheme so it fits in with your other tools.
  • Develop a naming convention for wiki spaces.
  • Manage wiki growth and keep content from becoming stagnant and unused.
  • Develop a request procedure to gather essential information including space owner, purpose, and how long the space is needed.
  • Use a retention policy to keep in contact with space owners, ensure that spaces are in active use, and archive them once they’re no longer needed.
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Wikipatterns book: a practical guide to improving productivity and collaboration in your organization Wikipatterns
A practical guide to improving productivity and collaboration in your organization.
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Using Wiki in Education wiki book Using Wiki in Education
10 case studies from education show how to collaboratively build curriculum, guide students' teamwork, and manage research projects.
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Your Wiki Isn’t Wikipedia: How to Use It for Technical Communication Your Wiki Isn’t Wikipedia (PDF download)
How to use a wiki for technical communication and project management. Published in the January, 2009 issue of Intercom, the magazine of the Society for Technical Communication.
5 Effective Wiki Uses and How Companies Benefit From Them 5 Effective Wiki Uses (PDF download)
Five ways your business can benefit from using a wiki. Published in the August, 2008 issue of Website Magazine.
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Stewart Mader presenting at Northern Voice 2008 The key to successful wiki adoption is to create the conditions for steady growth. I'll help you plan your strategy, run a pilot, and build a hub for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and project management.

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