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Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and Collaborative World

Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and Collaborative World

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by Rod Collins

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We now live in a “wiki” world where mass collaboration is not only possible—it’s often the best solution. Conventional management thought assumes that command-and-control is the most effective way to organize the efforts of large numbers of people, but rapid change and increasing complexity have rendered that model obsolete. As a result, most


We now live in a “wiki” world where mass collaboration is not only possible—it’s often the best solution. Conventional management thought assumes that command-and-control is the most effective way to organize the efforts of large numbers of people, but rapid change and increasing complexity have rendered that model obsolete. As a result, most managers today lack the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an age when networks are proving smarter and faster than hierarchies. Designing organizations for mass collaboration demands a new and very different model—wiki management. Featuring enlightening examples from forward-thinking companies including Google, Whole Foods, Linux, and Wikipedia, Wiki Management outlines the revolutionary but necessary steps companies must take to: • Leverage their collective intelligence • Effectively integrate diverse points of view • Transition leaders from the role of “boss” to that of facilitator • Make “delighting customers” more important than pleasing superiors • Achieve a shared and actionable understanding of the key drivers of business success The power of networks is dramatically reshaping both the work we do—and the way we work. This groundbreaking book reveals what it takes to succeed in this fast-paced and exciting business environment.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“A nineteenth-century management model is unsustainable in a twenty-first century world,” argues innovation expert and management consultant Collins. He argues that businesses should use an alternative model of learning, collaboration, and innovation. A subset of vanguard companies already follow a collaborative approach: Wikipedia, Google, Threadless, Zappos, and others. Here, Collins presents the five principles of the vanguard companies and 50 practices they use to encourage mass collaboration (in a “wiki” world) and enhance adaptability. Collins suggests that managers begin by resetting the three M’s: managers (eliminating the sovereignty of the supervisor); meetings (allowing for more effective communication); and measures (for collaboration). Major change is coming to management, not because of organizational specialists, but because of engineers and their practices. Collins stresses understanding what’s most important to customers, encouraging open conversations, focusing on critical performance drivers, holding people accountable to their peers, and remembering that people are the greatest resource of any organization. While these concepts are not all new, Collins writes in lucid fashion, and readers will likely find the book helpful when diving into the subject of collaborative management. Agent: Sandra Bond, Bond Literary Agency.(Nov.)
From the Publisher

"Wiki Management is an insightful take on how the business world is changing and on what companies will need to do to stay afloat in it." --The Futurist

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By Rod Collins


Copyright © 2014 Rod Collins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8144-3308-9


Getting on the Right Bus

In the late 1990s, the recording industry was in the midst of an incredible financial bonanza when a whole generation of music lovers happily replaced their vinyl album collections with superior-quality compact discs. With the development of an essentially scratch-free technology, the CD appeared to be the proverbial golden goose that would keep on giving. After nearly a century, the industry appeared to have mastered the challenge of creating the perfect record album. If you were a manager in either the production or the retailing of music in the last decade of the twentieth century, your business fortunes were looking very favorable.

Unfortunately, unexpected events can change things very quickly, as the music executives discovered with the onset of the new millennium. Beginning in 2001, their cozy world was shaken by the equivalent of a seismic shock when an unknown college student working in his dorm room created the file-sharing platform Napster, and large numbers of music lovers started swapping individual songs over the Internet. Why buy bundled songs on CD albums from a record store when you could get the songs you really wanted to hear for free on your computer? The CD bonanza of the 1990s quickly turned into the drought of the 2000s as sales of albums plummeted by more than 25 percent, from 785.1 million in 2000 to 588.2 million in 2006.

The recording industry's strategic response to its sudden predicament was swift and predictable: Take legal action to shut down Napster and file copyright infringement lawsuits against more than 20,000 file sharers. Despite their success in executing their two-pronged legal strategy, the music executives failed to meet their prime objective of preserving the dominance of their longstanding business model. They won the battle but lost the war.

In the end, the golden goose was dead along with the thousands of record stores that no longer populate our shopping malls. In the heat of their legal battles to preserve the past, the managers of the recording industry failed to recognize that they had been suddenly thrust into a new world with a new set of rules. Had these managers recognized that their world had been turned permanently upside down, perhaps they would have bought Napster rather than put it out of business, and then maybe we would all be buying our digital downloads from the new Napster rather than from iTunes. The managers at Apple, unlike their counterparts at the record companies, were quite adept at the new rules, which explains how the computer company was able to become a major player in the music industry.

The recording industry is not alone in failing to recognize that we suddenly find ourselves in a completely new world with a completely different set of rules. Blockbuster, the king of video rentals, saw its business model disrupted twice—once by a disgruntled customer who hated late fees and responded by starting Netflix, and then again by the technology of on-demand video. By the time the managers at Blockbuster realized their world had drastically changed, it was too late for them. In 2010, they were forced into bankruptcy and eventually auctioned off to Dish Network in 2011.

In 2001, Borders was at the height of its popularity when online sales became a new way to purchase books. Although the brick-and-mortar business briefly considered developing an online capacity, the managers at Borders saw Internet book sales as a sideline at best and made the shortsighted decision to outsource their e-commerce to Amazon, a mistake that would prove fatal when Borders shuttered its doors in 2011.

Even supposedly "great" companies can fail to recognize when the world around them has suddenly changed. Circuit City and Fannie Mae, two of the eleven companies that met Jim Collins's rigorous criteria as "good-to-great" businesses, succumbed to the difficulties of managing in fast-changing times. In 2008, Fannie Mae found itself at the center of the storm in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and in 2009, Circuit City collapsed into bankruptcy, falling victim to hubris and a series of poor management decisions.

The struggles faced by each of these familiar companies are not isolated instances, but are rather reflections of a new and troubling norm. According to Nathan Furr in a 2011 blog post on Forbes.com, current trends indicate that the replacement rate for companies listed on the Fortune 1000 for the ten-year period ending in 2013 is very likely to be over 70 percent. This is a dramatic increase from the period 1973–1983, when the replacement rate was only 35 percent.

Increasingly, as more companies and their managers are confronted by their own unprecedented challenges, many are beginning to come to terms with the unavoidable reality that the world most of them have known is indeed rapidly changing. As they continue to watch household brands they once considered invincible fall by the wayside, many of these managers are anxious about making sure their companies respond differently. As unwelcome as the new reality may be, they are determined not to experience a similar fate.


In their search for new solutions to effectively avoid the pitfalls of rapid change, a popular image that has connected with many managers is Jim Collins's notion of "getting the right people on the bus." In his bestselling study of businesses that made the leap from good to great, Collins found that, unlike most companies' usual practice of figuring out what to do and then finding the people to do it, the leaders who guided these extraordinary organizations did the opposite. Collins discovered that "they first got the right people on the bus and then figured out where to drive it." Given the increasing uncertainty and complexity in today's fast-moving markets, it is not surprising that perplexed executives would latch on to the notion that many of their problems would be solved if only they had the right people.

But what if having the right people is not enough? For most of their long lives, Blockbuster, Borders, Circuit City, and the various major players in the music industry were very well-managed businesses. Surely, getting the "right people on the bus" was not a problem for them. Perhaps their fatal flaws had less to do with the deficiencies of the people and more to do with the limitations of established management practices. Perhaps it wasn't the people on the bus, but rather the bus itself that was the problem. While "getting the right people on the bus" is important, isn't it just as important to be on the right bus? After all, you can gather all the right people you need and you can even determine the right direction that you need to take, but if you're on the wrong bus, you're not going to get where you need to be going. That's a problem when getting to where you need to be going is management's most important job.

The bus of business is management: It is the primary vehicle that businesses use to create products, coordinate operations, build market share, and remain profitable. Most businesses today continue to employ a management discipline that was initially formulated in the late nineteenth century and solidified in the early twentieth century by the first management guru, Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor developed the fundamental management model that guided the evolution of the modern corporation throughout the twentieth century. Known as Scientific Management, this model was designed to boost the efficiency and productivity of workers by applying scientific methods, such as time and motion studies, to discover the best ways for workers to perform the various tasks of production under the close supervision of a hierarchy of managers. Taylor's philosophy quickly became the gospel of management and provided the foundation for much of what many of us, more than a century later, still consider to be the givens of professional management: top-down hierarchies, the sharp divide between managers and workers, centralized decision making, and functional organization. Taylor's influence on the practice of management has been so pervasive and enduring that the late Peter Drucker referred to Scientific Management as "the one American philosophy that has swept the world—more so than the Constitution and the Federalist Papers." This bus has indeed had a long ride.


In these first decades of the twenty-first century, managers are beginning to come to terms with the reality that a nineteenth-century management model, despite its enduring success, is no longer adequate to address the challenges of a post-digital world. They suddenly find themselves in a different and unfamiliar world that's becoming more complex and chaotic as they painfully learn that the old rules no longer work. They are struggling to understand what's happening, why now, and—most importantly—what they can do about it.

With the advent of the Digital Revolution over the last decade, the way the world works has been radically transformed by the unprecedented combination of three developments: accelerating change, escalating complexity, and ubiquitous connectivity.

Accelerating Change

Let's look at the first of these developments, accelerating change. We now live in a fast-forward world where the speed of market evolution has overtaken every industry and dramatically altered the business landscape. That's why we call this new world the wiki world. As previously stated, wiki is the Hawaiian word for "quick" or "fast," and it aptly describes a business landscape where managing at the pace of change is becoming the central challenge. While most managers across all industries readily acknowledge that the world is moving faster, what they often fail to comprehend is that the increment of time for market change is now shorter than the increment of time for moving information up and down a chain of command. This means that the social structures of hierarchical organizations cannot keep pace with the speed of change in today's faster-moving markets. When you have to manage at the pace of accelerating change, organizations have to be built for speed.

Being built for speed means that organizations are highly adaptive to change. It means they are able to quickly respond to major market shifts with agility, flexibility, and imagination. These are not attributes that we normally associate with traditionally managed companies. Hierarchies are inherently slow, rigid, and incremental, and they are thus not designed to think boldly. Yet, when the speed of change becomes overwhelming, calculated boldness is often the only path to adaptability. Unfortunately, despite the numerous efforts at so-called change management initiatives, most organizations are changing at a much slower rate than the world around them, which explains why the recording industry managers preferred the incremental strategy of rigorous litigation to taking the bold leap into the new market of digital downloading. However, if managers want to succeed in the wiki world, learning how to be bold and adaptable is not an option—it's a strategic necessity.

Escalating Complexity

The second development that has transformed the world is escalating complexity. Today's business issues are substantively different from those of even a decade ago. For well over a hundred years, management issues have been mainly about solving problems, which explains why problem-solving skills have been so highly valued and why traditional management reveres individual experts and star performers. Industrial Age problems were, for the most part, issues of complication. Thus, when something went wrong, the challenge was to find the discrete elements among a myriad of details that, once corrected, would solve the whole issue. When the primary business challenges are issues of complication, star performers and their analytical tools are the pathways to uncovering the "silver bullets" that lead to problem resolution.

However, in the wiki world, our challenges are more likely to be issues of complexity where there are no silver bullets that neatly solve the problems. Issues of complexity are usually paradoxes where a balance needs to be struck between apparently contradictory perspectives or where problem resolution involves crafting a holistic solution that creatively integrates a collection of elements. Resolving paradoxes often requires the development of innovative cross-functional processes to uncover new ways of thinking and acting. The economic challenges that plague both the European nations and the United States are examples of complex issues in which the resolution continues to remain evasive because we lack the processes to effectively discover the common ground required for effective holistic solutions. As our issues grow increasingly more complex, organizations are learning that they cannot succeed unless they are built for innovation.

Innovation is the willingness to abandon what made success possible yesterday and the openness to create a very different future. It is the willingness to embrace the late Steve Jobs's bold counsel to "think different." Innovation is the willingness to build a team, as Google does, to disrupt a very successful product offering so that when it is displaced in the market, it gives way to a new product that you produced rather than your competitor. It is the willingness to not be overly committed to one business model so that when it inevitably dies, the company naturally evolves into an adaptive strategy. Innovation is the willingness to develop a tolerance for failure and to learn how to embrace small failures, because that's the only way for organizations to avoid the big failures. And finally, innovation is the willingness to involve customers and workers as true partners in shaping the direction of the business because, in fast-changing times, the most important knowledge is often found outside the C-Suite.

Unfortunately, becoming innovative is a major challenge for most businesses because the old bus of management was not built for innovation. It was designed for discipline, predictability, enhancing the status quo, and preserving the authority of those who are in charge. As a consequence, most managers don't understand innovation and are significantly handicapped in markets that require creative thinking and nimble adaptability.

Too often, when traditional managers begin an innovation initiative, their first move is to set up a new department, put somebody in charge, and hold that person accountable for the new function. However, while well intentioned, these so-called innovation initiatives rarely produce real results. And in those instances where innovative managers do succeed, their accomplishments are typically short-lived because their innovative ways of thinking and acting are threatening to the more powerful custodians of traditional norms.

Innovation is not a department; it is the fuel of the new bus of management. It is a way of thinking and acting that values customers over bosses, collective intelligence over individual experts, shared understanding over top-down direction, simple rules over bureaucratic procedures, and transparency over control. Becoming innovative means altering the fundamental DNA of a business and its management so that creativity—which Jobs defined as the simple ability to connect things—becomes the fundamental fabric of the enterprise. Innovative companies are designed for serendipity and the daily cross-pollination of ideas because they understand that innovation isn't something that's planned and manipulated—it's something that's facilitated and emerges. That's why, as you will discover throughout this book, the social processes of innovative companies are inherently iterative and cross-functional.

Ubiquitous Connectivity

The third development transforming the world, ubiquitous connectivity, is the most important of the three because it is this element that makes the combination of the three developments unprecedented. There have been times in the past when we have experienced both accelerating change and escalating complexity, especially during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. However, the sudden emergence of a hyper-connected world made possible by the Digital Revolution is truly unprecedented. We now live in a world where, for the first time in human history, we have the technology that makes mass collaboration possible, practical, and pervasive. Today, large numbers of geographically dispersed individuals can effectively and directly work together in real time—and they can do it faster, smarter, and cheaper than traditional businesses. That's why the best companies in our new wiki world are built for collaboration.

Mass collaboration is creating entirely new ways of working together that only twenty years ago would have stretched the limits of believability. Who would have imagined that you could build a successful computer operating system or an online encyclopedia using only volunteers working without a plan, without assigned tasks, and even without pay? Yet today, the open source Linux operating system is a $35 billion enterprise with a 12 percent market share, and Wikipedia has completely displaced a two-century-old business model in a single decade.

Excerpted from WIKI MANAGEMENT by Rod Collins. Copyright © 2014 Rod Collins. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Rod Collins is the Director of Innovation for Optimity Advisors, a national management consulting firm that works with businesses across multiple industries to develop fact-based solutions to the strategic and operational challenges of rapidly changing markets. Before joining Optimity, Rod had his own consulting business for five years, Wiki-Management, and he is the leading expert on the next generation of business management. Rod is also a keynote speaker and workshop leader and trainer. He writes a bi-weekly blog on management innovation, which highlights how the most successful business leaders are reinventing management in order to stay ahead of today’s ever-accelerating pace of change. Wiki Management is based on Rod’s experience in successfully applying the principles and practices of wiki-management over a ten-year period, first as a senior executive and then, over the five-year period from 2002-2007, as the Chief Operating Executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program, one of the nation’s largest and most successful business alliances, with over $28 billion in annual revenues.

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Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and Collaborative World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is full of great information and practices that will help businesses be able to create the types of management that will allow them to be successful in today’s business world. Because the business world has to move so much quicker today, thanks to the fast paced internet age, the author shows what archaic management practices are too slow and cumbersome, and how to create or change a business’s structure to better deal with fast paced decisions and productivity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Then how are u my kit lol well lynx kit i think is going to res 8 so u can rp rosekit at res 1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No wa my sister is there. Shes the leader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jungle gym.
KMH3030 More than 1 year ago
In Wiki Management, author Rod Collins sets out to show how businesses need to adapt and change in order to succeed in today’s world. He details ‘wiki management’, which is quick/fast management disciplines designed to help managers keep pace with quickly changing economics and industries. Collins writes that companies that have managed to be successful in the Great Recession have replaced traditional management models. He details the new practices that he believes are crucial for success in the rapidly changing digital age. Collins asserts that there must be a complete change in mindset, and he provides fifty specific practices for changing an organization in this well written, straight forward book.