Best Practice and the Wiki Big Brain - An MBA Class Case Study

February 11, 2008 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Some of my past entries (Best Practice and the Wikipedia Big Brain, Yin and Yang of E2.0, and Pros and Cons of Emergence) have discussed the importance of some structure in the collaboration process, even when using software like wikis and blogs which can permit N degrees of emergent structure. A recent sustained effort by an MBA class in Israel illustrates the importance and benefit of applying structure to the task.

The case study story, A Wiki Collaborative Platform, written by Daphne Raban, Ph.D. is published in Competitive Intelligence Magazine's January/February 2008 edition. Ms. Raban in a lecturer at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Haifa, where she's ran the wiki exercise with 2 successive classes.

The goal set out for the class was to write a hebrew textbook on Competitive Intelligence (there are many books on the subject, but few in hebrew).

Ms. Raban started the project by writing a brief home page and an extensive table of contents. She then paired up 130 students, each of which wrote 1 topic from scratch. Through a process of peer review, students reviewed two sections each and applied any relevant edits.

After another class of 90 students, there have been no less than 8.153 edits - 37 per student. The resulting work (available here) is, Raban reports, of excellent quality and continues to improve.

In summary: wiki collaboration can produce phenomenal results, especially given clear communication of both the technology framework (how the space is organized) and the social framework (how we work together in the space). Furthermore, though the work is done "bottom up," some "top down" encouragement, incentive and monitoring can improve and accelerate the process and its outcome.

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