Wikibility of Innovation oriented Workplaces

This is the networked professional’s web 2.0, via Sebastien Sauteur I found Vincenzo Cammaratas master thesis, called “Wikibility of Innovation Oriented Workplaces – The CERN Case” (pdf). Here’s the abstract, I have skimmed through the +100 pages over the weekend and recommend it basically:

[…] Wiki systems and other social networking applications
represent an important shift on the way in which people work: at the opposite of other previous IT technologies in this field, the Enterprise 2.0 is not about simple devices of office automation, but requires (and brings to) a dramatic organizational culture shift. In particular Wiki offers new possibilities and opportunities in order to exploit in a more effective way the entire potential of the collaborative work coming from the active participation of all the individuals that are present in a workplace.

This dissertation wants to contribute to the current debate on the cultural shift that the introduction of this tool in a workplace is able to produce: we will see that, for a Wiki – or any Enterprise 2.0 tool – being effective it has to activate a virtuous circle able to create new knowledge.

The peculiarity of this work is that it focuses on this particular cultural
aspect and aims to define the features of the ideal workplace that can optimize wiki use in order to be innovation oriented and “hence” competitive.

Once identified these “cultural key drivers” and defined Wikibility as the
cultural attitude of an environment able to make the Wiki use in a workplace effective, the further scope of this thesis is to measure the presence of this Wikibility mind-set and to propose a new tool (not yet validated). This sort of cockpit could be useful for the management that, interested to promote a better and true collaborative approach to work, wants to be sure on the effective support in order to produce true innovation.

I like the goal of his work and am absolutely sympathetic (hmm, wikibility, yes, a neologism but I dig it) – but I am also a bit cautious. “Measuring” organizational culture and designing a cockpit or “dashboard” that enables management to steer (and control) processes of organizational change sure is attractive, as is the vision of an “ideal wiki situation” where implementation of enterprise 2.0 is naturally, but I doubt that the CERN situation nor the learnings made there can be replicated in “normal organizations”. And I sure don’t buy the idea that a fitting organizational culture must be present in advance, as “a preliminary workplace attitude”, put forth here (see slide 15):

Of course it helps if the people “grok it”, and it helps a lot if management gets it too, but otherwise I side with Mike Gotta (“Enterprise 2.0: Culture Required?“)
and Michael Idinopulos (“Culture is a destination not a starting point“).

Mike, (who referred to Michael’s post) says:

You can be very successful in use tools associated with E2.0 (blogs, wikis, tag and social bookmarks, etc) even in situations where culture is “unhealthy” – and when participation is more or less “directed” by role, workflow, and functional duties

Michael entering stage too:

[…] There is a view out there that an organization needs to have a “culture of collaboration” culture in order to successfully employ wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools.

That view is dead wrong. I’ve seen wikis thrive in un-collaborative cultures. I’ve seen wikis fail in collaborative cultures. I’ve seen wikis thrive in an organization alongside failing wikis in the same organization.

Even within “non-collaborative” cultures, people have to work with other people. We’ve seen lots of examples of wikis being introduced into those cultures in very safe ways – to streamline and simplify existing business interactions within existing organizational silos.

He also elaborates on an example of how social software inside an organization can act as a change catalyst – yes, the way I see it is that social software is both a driver and an enabler (or infrastructure) of organizational change.

5 Responses to “Wikibility of Innovation oriented Workplaces”

  1. […] is easy to figure out, while it can effect interesting and complex changes. And some technologies can engender cultural change: the way I see it is that social software is both a driver and an enabler (or infrastructure) of […]

  2. I confess, “Wikibility”, is a “marketing” tactic for sell my work… but if you read my entire dissertation, you will find first of all that the CERN is not so different by other company: is a little ecosystem and each division is equal a company… with the handicap that they use wiki in a spontaneous way missing many potentiality of the tool.

    So, Wikibility is a “forma mentis” is not linked with the technology… and is not only “collaboration” and how can you set up your tool (your thermometer) if not verifyng the quality of your instrument in a place where you aspect for “forma mentis” an high level of this kind of Culture?

    Further, in order to achieve the “perfect” organiozational culture that allow to use E2.0 in a smart way and with the aim to encrease the innovation rate, I think that is obvious to measure the initial cultural status of a workplace in order to understand how to promote and communicate actions that explain to people what they can do with a wiki or with a blog in an Intranet… why they would change “the way in which things are doing”(=Culture)

    In any case thank you for your interest 🙂
    I’m veri glad for that!

  3. Martin Koser says:

    Vincenzo, I agree that many traits of CERN are similar to “real corporations”, like working in teams, (ad-hoc formed) collaboration groups, projects etc.

    In fact I am only suspecting that it can’t be really compared and that we can’t transpose the CERN learnings to the whole of more traditional enterprises. It’s a different game and mode of business – with specific goals and “customers” – this “science and research”. We should compare it with corporate R&D at most. This is basically no problem, as I agree that knowledge work is gaining importance and traction everywhere and anyway. Still, I doubt that the CERN-employees, their competencies, motivational structures (and incentives) can be used as role model for all.

    Whatever, I didn’t want to sound to critically of your attempt at “measuring” organizational cultural readiness – like Dinesh Tantri’s take on a people/organizational readiness framework for Enterprise 2.0 ( it can be used for implementation planning and prioritization of steps to take (and I even argued along your lines in client talks of late). After all I think we both agree that it’s all about changing the ways people work and collaborate, not so much about the actual tools they use.

    BTW, are you planning to attend Emmanuele’s Enterprise 2.0 Forum in Varese?

  4. Sure! I’ll be there! We will meet?
    Naturally my work was only a MSc’s thesys, and the issue is so young… This is only a starting point… Ciao!

  5. Martin Koser says:

    Vincenzo, I will try my very best to be there. Would be great to meet you there, xinging you in a minute too 😉

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