Why not use a wiki to develop policies?

Ever since organisations have existed there has been a need to manage how their people behave by encouraging, sometimes even mandating, how work tasks need to be carried out and by whom.

There can be various reasons for policies: business, regulatory, and legal are the most common.  The way that policies are created, updated, and developed has changed very little in my experience working in or with organisations.  There will normally be an owner, champion, or stakeholder who will have overall responsibility for creating and managing the policy throughout its life cycle.

When a policy is created or needs to be reviewed it will normally be the owner who will start some form of a consultation exercise.  This may simply be an email to a few people across the organisation who are most affected by or can influence the policy asking if there are any changes they need to be made existing policies or what needs to be included to new policies.

It may involve a more robust approach being taken:

  • maybe a focus group
  • a request to a wider audience who have an interest in the area of the policy
  • or a project team who work through the detail and check back with their business function or stakeholder for guidance on the progress being made.

The variety of approaches used by organisations when creating new policies or reviewing and updating existing policies hasn’t changed much in recent years.

But the ways that organisations can now engage their people to create or update policies are changing.  There are new approaches being used which help encourage people to be more involved in what their organisation’s purpose, aims, values, and culture – amongst many others – should be.

Adapting social media tools used successfully on the internet include:

  • people using blogs to give their views and opinions
  • feedback any questions to news articles
  • share information through discussion groups about a wide range of work related activities.

I believe a corporate wiki that any person in the organisation can use is a great way to create a new policy or to update an existing policy.  It gives the chance for any person with an interest in the policy – maybe they are affected by it and want to improve it – to give their views.

Have you tried this in your organisation?

2 responses to “Why not use a wiki to develop policies?

  1. The emergence of collaborative corporate governance is at heart where the connected enterprise are heading. From my experience these content buckets of governing rules, policies and guidelines that make up the game-plan for organising is seldom read by members of staff. They know they exist, might even have to go through on-boarding programs and e-learning as a newbie, but then forget about most of the written things in code of conduct and the like. Not sayin they don’t care, but simply the are learning the everyday practices from peer members of staff who most of the time comply to the rules or invent creative interpretations to the rules.

    I reckon the reasoning for most organisations not walking the path to a collaborative set of policies is the fear of losing control? Which is a bit strange, since as you Mark state the process the manage this piece of information have to have people in the process anyhow. Why not invite all members of staff to participate, engage and jointly develop the organising principles for working together. Tracking changes and having safe-guards and guard-rails around the corporate wiki is only a matter of common sense processes. I would dare to say that if a member of staff puts in some effort to chane something in the set of content, it is for a good reason. Not to make a fuzz. We as knowledge workers do not have time to obstruct. Trust will be built into the social construct as well as en open attitude to why we spend the time we do at work in the first place. Nice post Mark. I have a few new ideas soon to be released on my own blog, if I only get time to scribble down the ideas I have around networked governance. Please do read http://www.amazon.com/dp/144931905X where my fellow IA collegue Thomas have contributed.

    • I agree with you Fredric. It is mainly fear of loss of control and a little bit of puzzlement on how is the best way to try this out without losing control.

      Looking forward to reading your ideas being released on your blog.

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