Check out this book – ‘Wikinomics – how mass collaboration changes everything‘ by Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams. They also have a website http://www.wikinomics.com/ with lots of interesting bits. An easy to read book putting forth the idea that the next (and in some cases current) business model is the adoption of the social network and open source concept for business. I really enjoyed it and it certainly made a lot of sense to me.

Two quick observations…

  • They cite the same companies over and over again as examples that support their points. Although these companies are multinationals and worth billions…I would have liked to have more examples.
  • Is this a totally new management and business model, which will eventually reign supreme over all others? Or will it be successful in only some cases and just be an alternative?

My favourite chapter was Chapter 9 – The Wiki Workplace and their profile of the Geek Squad.  

I come from a command and control management environment. That was what I was taught – through formal education and on the job observation. Although I always felt that I was more of a benevolent despot when compared to some other managers. After reading the book and looking back at some of the things I did as a manager/supervisor, I can actually see that I was attempting to implement some wikified type strategies – though certainly not to the degree talked about in Wikinomics.

Simple things like empowering staff to manage within their sphere of influence. As one of my staff called it – ‘mini-managers’. I always felt, and still do, that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.

Another strategy I tried to implement, but was unable to bring it to fruition due to time (or lack of it) was what I called the “in department expert users”. Folks within each of our client departments who were interested in technology and geeky enough to want to spend some time on providing solutions and talking to us in the IT Department about those solutions. Typically we spent time talking to folks at a higher level who were more concerned with budgets and global initiatives. What I wanted to do (and after reading Wikinomics I now have a name for it) was to build a “community” of  technology users at the grass roots level and converse with them about their needs. Some of these folks had great ideas on how to improve their little corner of the world – with little to no budget impact, and just needed the opportunity. My objective with this strategy was to find a way to enable our clients to access technology they felt was improving their productivity. Some of these ideas would improve productivity across the global enterprise as well – if it worked for one department, why not all? I presented this idea to some senior folks, and the responses varied, but most of it was positive – in theory. In talking to the folks in the hallway during our many ad-hoc meetings (we were always fond of saying, ‘I was walking down the hallway and a meeting broke out!’) some of them were very excited about having the opportunity to voice their thoughts and to contribute via this method.  What eventually happened was that bigger issues took control of our daily lives and this strategy didn’t see the light of day. I’m no longer with that organization, but I’d like to try this ‘community’ approach some where else.

BTW: here’s the link to Jonathan Schwartz’s weblog which they mention many times in the book. He’s Sun’s CEO who is a big advocate of wikifiying the enterprize.

Dean Owen

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