Purpose of the 24-7 wiki site

Introduction

One of our conclusions at the 24-7 International Ops meeting In April 2007 was that we needed a better way of sharing information about practical and operational matters around the 24-7 prayer movement. At the moment:

  • A lot of good stuff is held on people’s computer hard drives but is inaccessible to everyone else unless they know who to ask;
  • We waste a lot of time and effort ‘re-inventing the wheel’ as we tackle similar issues in different nations and contexts;
  • In some areas we are probably making the same mistakes over and over because we have no way of sharing what we have learned;
  • Our model of ’best practise’ is contained in a few key people’s heads; and these individuals are already too overstretched to effectively pass it on;
  • We leave ourselves vulnerable when good-hearted but inexperienced volunteers are left to ‘make up’ ways of doing things (and it can be de-motivating for some of them, too).

We don’t want to paint an overly negative picture – there is loads of excellent stuff going on in the movement – but we believe there is a great opportunity here to quite easily make significant improvements!

Knowledge sharing

The ops team would like to recommend that we try out a web-based approach for sharing knowledge and information around the 24-7 movement. The platform used is called a ‘wiki’ – if you have ever used ‘wikipedia’ on the internet then you will already have seen it in action.

Basically a wiki is a simple way to create text-based pages of information on a website and link them together in a logical manner. The approach is extremely ‘open’ – anyone can add or modify content, so the whole thing becomes collectively owned by the entire community. This is a very good fit with 24-7 as a relational movement (somehow I can’t imagine us creating and issuing a centrally produced ‘operations manual’, even less anyone actually reading and following it!)

The idea is that the various different bits of 24-7 (national bases, boiler rooms, international functions) will all start to create and store their operational information on the Ops wiki site rather than in odd word documents etc. This not only means that they can make them easily accessible to everyone in their team (you just email a link), but crucially, they will also be visible to everyone else in the movement. Whenever you want to do something for the first time or solve a problem, there is a good chance that you will be able to find something relevant that someone else has already created. If not, at least your trail-blazing efforts will never have to be re-learnt from scratch anywhere else!

In time, we will be able to consolidate the best of these (plus ideas from key leaders in the movement) into a ‘model’ for each area, which represents what we currently consider to be as best practise. This will act as a ‘health check’ for existing bits of the movement and a ‘how to’ guide for new teams starting out.

But I don’t have time for all that!!!

This is not about doing extra stuff – it’s about doing the things we all already do in a smarter way. All of us regularly write documents, guidance, advice etc. and send it off to people in the movement. If in the future we instead typed it on the relevant part of the wiki (eg: your national base area or international function) and sent a link, it would involve no more work but it would be permanently available to everyone! As the body of knowledge starts to grow you get payback in that you can easily ‘steal with pride’ what others have already done – so the net amount of practical admin we all do actually goes down :o)

A real-world example: a couple of days ago I spent some time digging out some old information for Justin Blake and emailing it to him. Today I was cc:d on an email from Tim Harrold – who had just done exactly the same task. Had it have been on the wiki than Justin could have found it himself, immediately, without having to wait, and no-one else would have needed to spend any time on it. You get the picture!

What do I have to do?

The new 24-7 Ops wiki site is located at http://wiki.24-7prayer.com. There is a help page which tells you how to get started. It’s as easy as using a blog, and all the setting up has already been done.

I have created a top level framework and put in some content on 24-7 Titles and the East London Boiler Room, just to get things started. You can use it as a reference by browsing round the site or searching for specific subjects, but to add your own content you should first create a username and log in.

The key to making this work will be getting into the habit of using it regularly. Obviously not everything is suitable to go on the wiki, but if you are writing:

  • Guidance documents;
  • Processes & procedures;
  • vision statements;
  • checklists or forms;
  • job descriptions & organisation charts;

these would be incredibly useful to share and preserve.

If anyone else in your team(s) is doing something similar, ask them to start using the wiki approach too. If you are tasked with thinking about the way ahead or solving a particular problem, this might be suitable to go in the ‘model’ section of the relevant area.

Can I get help?

Basic guidance on how to use the wiki software is available here.

Sometimes it helps to have someone facilitate you in structuring your thoughts about the areas you are responsible for. If anyone would like this kind support, please give Philanderson a call. We can spend some time on ‘phone or skype talking through what you do, then I will create a skeleton/template ready to populate with the subjects we have discussed. You will probably find that you have much of this information already written down somewhere ready to cut-and-paste in, or if it is all in your head then this will give you a good opportunity to get it down on paper!

Our hope is that this will serve the movement in an effective way, without burdening us with the restrictions of having to create a much more ‘formal’ set of operations procedures.