Open Sourcing the knowledge of OuiShare

I am a very active member of a decentralised organisation called OuiShare. This is a community of thousands around the globe who share a purpose and a set of values. OuiShare has done hundreds of projects, ranging from international conferences on the sharing economy to ad-hoc consultancy services for companies who wish to strengthen internal collaboration and to adopt agile methodologies.

There are many perks to a networked organisation like OuiShare, but also many challenges. One problem is the loss of knowledge. On the one hand, groups are geographically disperse and it is not easy to discover who has done what. On the other, members of the community may become very active for a few months, working on a particular project, to then go on with their personal journeys (this is our equivalent to an employee quitting their job).

Last year a very important knowledge management project was launched to address this and to capture and disseminate the accumulated knowledge of the organisation: the OuiShare Open Source project.

Our approach to capturing and sharing knowledge is not based on heavy SharePoint repositories or boring intranet sites. On the contrary, we were inspired by stigmergy and we are building maps to provide a curated experience for everybody to navigate and use our knowledge. We are literally building our collective brain.

To kick-off this project internally, we chose a small number of key areas to focus on (branding and sales). For each of these areas, “Communities of Practice” (CoPs), which are groups of people from different regions who share an interest in those topics. Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and deepen their understanding and knowledge of this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. CoPs in OuiShare are open for anyone to join and they have a life-time between six and nine months.

The picture below shows the first workshop we had in Paris.

During those sessions we learned how to identify knowledge assets that we produce when we do our work and how to share them with our netowrk.

Ever since the kick-off, these communities of practice have captured and shared a range of valuable knowledge assets and have built their collective intelligence with a series of knowledge maps. The assets are curated and exposed in those maps for everyone to discover and use at will. Since the start of this project, hundreds of OuiShare members and people outside the organisation have navigated our knowledge maps, discovered loads of useful material, new ideas and been inspired to innovate. This is what the ‘Branding’ knowledge map looks like:

The key advantages of knowledge maps are:

  • Mind maps are explored, therefore users discover knowledge that they did not know existed
  • Groups build maps collaboratively, therefore providing a sense of ownership that can’t be found in information repositories and intranets
  • Knowledge maps do not only show the knowledge assets we currently have, but also those we would like to have

Further reading

We use MindMeister to build our knowledge maps, which are perfect for collaboration and are 100% cloud-base. Check here more details on how to use MindMeister for knowledge management.

This week at the OuiShare Fest we will be hosting a Masterclass on how to boost the value-creation structures around strategic objectives and capturing relevant knowledge (More information on this Masterclass).

If you want to read more in-depth articles about knowledge management and collaboration, check out my website.

If you would like to be part of one of those communities of practice at OuiShare (or to find out more details on how we go about this), just drop us a line at or