Book Summary: Wiki Management

Erwin van der Koogh bio photo By Erwin van der Koogh Comment

A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing & Collaborative World

Most companies & managers are currently having a hard time in the changing 21st century. But a few companies have managed to adapt and are not just surviving, but thriving in this environment. From those vanguard companies, like Google, Whole Foods, Zappos, Wikipedia and his own experience as a CEO, Rod Collins collected and categorized fifty concrete and hands-on management practices. It is neither a shopping or to-do list, but more of a buffet menu of things to experiment with and be inspired by tomorrow.

The 21st Century is different

The book starts out by outlining three trends that are making business in the 21st century so much different from the previous ones. Accelerating Change, Escalating Complexity & Ubiquitous Connectivity

According to Rod it is especially the last one, Ubiquitous Connectivity, that is making a huge difference. We have had Accelerating Change and Escalating Complexity before, especially during the Industrial Revolution. But now everyone is connected to everyone else. It is both the greatest threat when customers leave en-masse for a competitor, but also our biggest opportunity for allowing a network organization which is much better suited for dealing with complexity.

If companies are to thrive in an exponential world, they are going to need to learn how to manage differently. Rather than leading functional silos, they will need to become comfortable at building well-connected agile teams that know how to change without trauma.
Rod Collins

Resetting the organization

Unfortunately most managers are better at discipline, control, efficiency & cutting cost. What we need to do according to Rod is to reset the 3Ms:

  • The Managers. Resetting the sovereignty of the supervisor by transitioning his role from the boss to a facilitator.
  • The Meetings. Getting everyone in a room and transform meetings from political debating jousts into collective learning opportunities.
  • The Measures. Going from functional individual KPIs to KPIs that measure customer outcomes and promote collaboration.

The Five Disciplines

The fifty practices are also divided over five disciplines:

  1. Understanding What is Most Important to Customers
  2. Aggregate and Leverage Collective Intelligence
  3. Build Shared Understanding by Bringing Everyone Together in Open Conversations
  4. Focus on the Critical Few Performance Drivers
  5. Hold People Accountable To Their Peers

Which means that there are 2-3 practices for every M in every discipline. More than enough choice to try.

Worth it?

Short answer is yes. The first chapters dive really well into why we need to change and why the hierarchical command & control organization is not going to work anymore.

Every practice is a short to the point description of the practice and an example of where it worked. Whether you are a manager or not, you will find a few practices to either try yourself or suggest to your team.

Well worth a read.