The 5 Disciplines of Wiki Management

The world we now live in has forced us to reexamine the way we lead people that gained preeminence during the industrial age and our often immature view of leadership—the “I’m in charge” mentality.

Authoritarian leadership implies that the smartest, most valuable people are at the top and so the leader commands and the followers do. Not only is that not true, it’s not sustainable in a world characterized by exponential change.

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Rod Collins writes in Wiki Management, “Today’s managers may spend more time soliciting input from their workers, but at the end of the day, the basic social technology remains the same: The managers are still the bosses, the workers are still subordinates, and the latter are still expected to do as they are told.”

“Wiki” is a Hawaiian term that refers to taking quick action to produce immediate, effective results. Coupled with management, the term offers a way to describe a way of managing designed to help managers keep pace with accelerating change. Collaborative networks are smarter and faster than top-down hierarchies.

“Wiki Management assumes that the most effective organizations are highly connected, self-organized networks that are designed to leverage the power of collective intelligence and achieve extraordinary results.” Rather than leaders “acting as controllers who take charge and make the decisions, they assume the roles of facilitators of the discovery processes from which the best decisions emerge.”

In general, Wiki Management is about removing inflated ego from the practice of leadership and about breaking down the barriers that define most hierarchies.

Collins examines five key disciplines essential to thriving in this “flatter,” highly collaborative landscape:
  1. Understand what’s most important to customers. In a hyper-connected world, the best companies are customer-centric…and built around processes that make the task of delighting customers a higher priority than pleasing bosses.
  2. Aggregate and leverage collective intelligence. Today’s most intelligent organizational leaders no longer leverage individual intelligence by constructing functional bureaucracies. Instead, they cultivate collaborative communities with the capacity to quickly aggregate and leverage their collective intelligence. The best leaders today are increasingly facilitators, not bosses.
  3. Build shared understanding by bringing everyone together in open conversations. Companies that successfully manage at the pace of accelerating change create innovative processes to effectively integrate diverse points of view, co-create a powerful, shared understanding, and drive clarity of purpose across the entire organization. The centralized planning that’s pervasive in command-and-control organizations is designed to eliminate surprises and therefore blunts serendipity.
  4. Focus on the critical few performance drivers. Management is about creating the future. Smart leaders don’t focus on outcome measures but on driver measures that create the outcomes.
  5. Hold people accountable to their peers. The secret to mastering the unprecedented challenges of the wiki world is to make sure that no one in the organization has the authority to kill a good idea or keep a bad idea alive. Holding people accountable to peers rather than supervisors enables the collaboration necessary for speed and innovation.
Collins provides 50 concrete practices to help implement these disciplines and transition your thinking from controller to facilitator. Not everything here is new but what Wiki Management does extremely well, is to guide you through the often counterintuitive thinking that underlies collaborative leadership. It’s leadership that allows people to flourish and can help to detoxify the working environment.

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Wiki Management is an important book. Rod Collins writes, “The most difficult adjustment for managers as they embrace the five disciplines of Wiki Management is coming to terms with their new role as the facilitators and catalysts of effective peer-to-peer collaboration. Organizations can become incredibly effective when the sovereignty of the supervisor is diminished.”

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