What is the wiki culture and what does it mean for enterprises?

Oct 17 2013

Here is the third article of our series of articles, entitled "How can the wiki culture change your business".

For an enterprise, Wiki Culture is first about:

  • Understanding the "knowledge challenge" and making it a priority as big as for instance the responsibility for the structure of the company, as big as selling, as big as hiring and keeping skilled workers. 
  • Understanding how the process of favoring small contributions that can be combined will lead to better results than bigger contributions that are hard to bring together, and recognizing the importance of information organization.

Wiki Culture is about setting up the principles and the tools that will favor the contribution of information and its organization, that encourage the participation of all individuals to this sharing and organization process. Wiki Culture is about empowering every individual and every team and allowing them to be information consumers, but also producers and organizers.
Wiki Culture is about the company being focused on "group productivity", rather than on "individual productivity".

Group productivity versus Individual productivity

Enterprises focus a lot on individual productivity. First in performance reviews, employees are asked and motivated to perform individually. Internal competition also pushes this further.
Individuals are often more comfortable with the "personal productivity trend". Each employee creates his own environment of personal productivity on his computer. This is taken further by the BYOD trend in which employees will often install their own chosen tools. Each user has on his PC his own way of organizing files or email folders, his own email filters. Today in small and large companies, even when it is officially forbidden, individuals will use cloud tools such as DropBox and many others to improve their productivity.
At best they will expose others to their online content, but hardly work together with other employees to find a common organization for the information they work with. 

While these tools allow employees to be more productive, it is easy to understand that the productivity of the enterprise is not the sum of the productivity of individuals. It's all about the way employees work together. If they work well, one plus one can be three as each individual gains from the collaboration. If they don't work together, it can be highly counter productive as employees shoot in different directions. 

A key challenge for collaborative tools is to allow group productivity to rise while increasing individual productivity. This cannot be achieved by letting individuals make different incoherent decisions on how to use existing or new tools. Users and sub-groups have to be empowered to participate in the way the information system is organized.

Did Wiki Culture exist before Wikis

I believe that at the individual's level, the basis of the Wiki Culture did exist before the existence of wikis. An individual, often a leader, was able to gather information from others and organize it and then share it back (on print, by email, or any other way). However at the group level, the lack of appropriate tools led to making it difficult to make others participate in the process, thus reinforcing the model of organizations with a strong and very directive leader.
Today with new tools, multiple individuals who have the willingness to contribute, organize and share information, have the possibility to do so collaboratively and benefit from each other's work.

Ludovic Dubost
President & Founder