July 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm 1 comment

The Wiki Workplace: Unleashing the Power of Us

Wikinomiks: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

by Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.


We know that in a military battalion, every move must not only be firm but numbered. Moreover, there is a corps commander or battalion officer that provides the command for the privates’ next move or position. In a jazz band, however, there is  usually no conductor. Or even if there is, the members are diverse. Unlike in a troop where the instruments are either rifles or swords only, an ensemble is composed of people who play the percussion, bass guitar, piano, saxophone, clarinet, and other instruments. In addition to that, they are divided into sections like rhythm and melody. This, according to Tapscott and Williams, is how a wiki workplace looks like.

We discussed how communication evolution changed the way people communicate. This also applies to how organizations, particularly business organizations, function today. It is not just the culture, but also the nature, of the organization that is changing. With the emergence of new social media tools like blogs, wikis, and even video games, organizations have entered the virtual environment, conquered the Net generation, and is now inside the wiki workplace.

Below are the following major benefits of collaboration in the wiki workplace:

#1: Power and control in organizations are gradually being distributed among the employees.

#2: Cohesiveness in spite of existing organizational and even geographical boundaries.

#3: Faster innovation yet lower costs

Through collaboration technologies, the workers can brainstorm ideas and socialize with each other at the same time. They are provided with more autonomy in terms of developing new strategies for the business. They can also participate in the decision-making process and influence the methods and result of the activity.  Because the control is shared, the workers also develop a deeper sense of loyalty to the organization.

Allowing the workers to take part in the decision-making process on the company operations, I think, is very important. After all, these people are the ones who are usually in the front line. Hence, they knew the organization’s target market in a much closer sense. Instead of paying an external group to do a market research, the management can give the task to those employees who work on the front line. Being able to interact with the consumers, the workers hold relevant firsthand information.

The wiki workplace also made collaboration less dependent on boundaries. Since the setting is online, there is more transparency. It is easier to tell whether the workers are indeed working–either they are online or offline. Because everything is being exchanged via the Web, knowledge and information sharing is deemed to be faster and easier. Another advantage of this is that the virtual world shrinks the organization in a way that the workers, as well as the management, become more familiar with each other. As said already, no boundaries such as doors or floors, and even ranks exist in a wiki workplace.

I am awed by how the wiki workplace would result to increased level of trust and loyalty and success when, in fact, with the large number of participants existing on the Web, it’s very hard to manage–if not unmanageable.  But of course, the most valuable end product is none other than is collective intelligence.

The teams formed in a wiki workplace may be virtual, but the workers are engaged with what they are doing. They are in one community of practice. When one is online, you know that he/she is participating or engaging in some kind of online activity.

In a traditional workplace where you see people doing the same tasks–typing, accepting orders, etc.–over and over again, collaborative tasks are mostly done only by the top management. And that really doesn’t seem collaborative at all because the input only comes from them.

In the wiki workplace, everyone is involved. Even managers and supervisors like Robert Stephens of Geek Squad join from time to time. Online is less formal, less structured. Sometimes, however, that is just what is needed.

The managers and supervisors must loosen up. Instead of standing in front of the battalion giving out orders like in a military, they should form a jazz band, and produce beautiful music out of the collective efforts and talents of its members. It’s mass collaboration at its best!


Entry filed under: Reflections. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. mydiamondring  |  July 31, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Military men no more, that’s what’s happening in orgs right now. And I think people love it. It may be too ideal, but it’s something to start on.


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