As mentioned previously, a wiki is an incredible basis for building trust because it reveals how your own need to control things and others’ inability to do so can collapse like a house of cards. 

It sounds extremely presumptuous of me to say, but I used to assume that others will probably find it difficult to think as clearly as I do and that they couldn’t meet my content quality requirements. I always found it better to give them a good structure to work with. I find this embarrassing today. Thinking that you’ve got what it takes and everyone else is a bit stupid is something you shouldn’t say out loud. You’re right. You can’t. Not even in traditional companies – except, possibly jokingly in gossip mode around the water cooler. 

Reality, however, shows that this way of thinking is pretty common. A kind of toxic mix of influences exists that, in most situations, prevents people from sharing the content of their work early on. One of these influences includes attribution of success. For example, the thought process of: “These are my thoughts, my concepts, my work, and my success, and all of this should be attributed to me.” The situation changes for me when I see more people stirring the pot at a very early stage in the process. Suddenly it feels like they need to correct my work as if they think I can’t do it myself. With the democratization of collaboration, the individual’s ability to attribute the success of their work to themselves suddenly fades away. 

Prejudices like this are, from my viewpoint, completely wrong. They’re conjured out of thin air or are fundamentally misguided. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to address this again, because when all of your employees continuously present their work on the intranet, early on, and without exception, the result is a crucial foundation for cooperation and transparency in a company.

In regard to doubts about others’ competence - which is probably the most widespread in this context - a simple experiment will suffice to purge this. 

If you think everyone else is stupid, simply put it to the test: publish your concept at an early stage of development and wait to see what happens. You’ll be amazed at how productive people can be! Sure, you’ll find comments that you think haven’t been well-thought-out, but given the opportunity, people will notice where your concept still has weaknesses or where it isn’t convincing. 

It’s truly an eye-opening experience to see what cool suggestions and additions colleagues can make – sometimes from people who you never expected. 

I used to be suspicious when people talked about how variety and diversity can enrich working life. Old-school traditional managers might think that they have no need for such things. They might even seek out more workaholics who can bring in business and really close deals. This is how people still think in the 21st century. Once you’ve worked on a wiki document with 30 people, however, you know what it means to shine a light on a concept from all sides. 

Of course, it may not always be a pleasant affair. Sometimes it’s neither wanted, necessary, nor helpful. I’m not trying to tell you that, once you create a wiki document, all of your colleagues will suddenly turn up and offer to make changes. You’ll need to earn this attention and participation in a conventional manner. 

What really does work well in an intranet wiki, is the ability to discover things. Someone sees what you’ve just created, the topic interests them, and they correct a few spelling mistakes or leave a comment with an idea.

The impact of these constructive and unexpected contributions can be enormous. As a business person, it may even influence the decision to hire a potential employee. Where I previously doubted some peoples’ ability in terms of whether they can fulfill tasks or roles, I now have many more positive relationships with my colleagues. They’re built on the foundation of strong trust and a close connection. And this works so well because everything is digital. It’s asynchronous. 

You read what’s on the intranet when the time suits you. No need to resort to those rare moments of real-time communication. But we don’t need to fool ourselves here. If you’re a manager in a large corporation, you are more likely to have business drama than someone like me in our company of just 180 employees. 

Another preconception I mentioned earlier relates to the attribution of success: the idea that I don’t want my colleagues to get involved early because I want to show off how good my own work is. The ulterior motive here is that, if others get involved in my concept early on, it may not produce a great qualitative gain, but when the concept is evaluated, its quality and success may be attributed to these people when most of the work was done by me. 

In short, I don’t think this argument is baseless. If I had to choose one side or the other, I would probably go so far as to say that it’s true. Ultimately though, it’s not relevant. 

Attributing success to individuals is nonsense. In our corporate world, success is only possible as a team. 

Individual successes in business may have occurred in the past (one hundred years ago, for example). Someone made an acquisition, managed the affair themselves, and singlehandedly made the necessary improvements for a successful outcome. Today, this only takes place in poorly paid or vocational professions. In one way or another, each of us today works in a team. The added value that’s generated by this teamwork is a complex affair that cannot be easily measured. 

Despite these complexities in quantifying and attributing added value in modern companies, individual targets and assignment of credit for success still exist. These agreements are often linked to remuneration and tend to ensure that people behave like well-trained monkeys. People are trained to achieve meaningless goals and targets. 

This way of thinking makes it quite understandable that employees would strive for individual success above all else. If they don’t reach all of their assigned targets, they at least need as much individual success as possible to reap the maximum benefit on their next paycheck. While this may be good for their checking account, it does little for the company and customer. 

The idea of individual targets and salary-linked target agreements has been scientifically refuted many times over.

Even if a culture of individual success attribution coupled with salary-relevant target agreements exists in your company, and even if you can’t change anything yourself, I advise that you, your teams, and your intranet colleagues make a point of working together to achieve success. The quality increases so massively through this type of cooperation that even the shared attribution of success is better for everyone than the individual lesser successes that would otherwise be possible. 

And even in the unlikely event that you’re the only person on your team who has what it takes, you’ll find that, if you get your team involved, the rate and frequency of your success will increase. As a result, you and your team will be assigned the difficult jobs. You’ll be consistently placed on the winner’s podium. And this has an impact even when you’re not standing on the podium alone. 

My best advice to you is to try it out. The worst thing that can happen is that your success is attributed to someone else. Either way, the risk is pretty low. It’s the cumulative successes and developments that build overall, long-term company success, and nobody cares if a few balls are dropped on the way. 

The risk is low. The result from improved cooperation is enormous. And the success rate is phenomenal. In short, I think it’s a good habit to get into. 

Theoretically, every team member knows this. We know that more transparency and content sharing early on has a positive effect on overall team performance. And you'll probably notice people paying a lot of lip service about it. Going off the beaten path, however, and actually turning this new way of working into reality is easier said than done. We all know that a little bit of morning exercise is beneficial. And we all know what a reasonable amount of alcohol consumption means. And nobody needs to explain to you how many chips or chocolate is too much. Yet, contrary to expectations and good sense, we frequently don’t do what’s best for us.

The corporate culture in your organization may not help you to establish good habits like transparency and improved cooperation in a modern intranet, but that’s not a good reason for doing the wrong thing out of habit. Sustaining bad habits will only make your task more difficult than it is for other companies. You’ll find yourself wondering, “How did they do that? We could have never done that!” What can be achieved in a more favorable environment in a few weeks may take months or even years at your company. 

What? You can’t hold out that long? You have to be able to show some tangible results in the next quarterly figures? The honest answer to this situation is that in large organizations, effectiveness can’t be achieved in short cycles like that. Those who demand results like this, however, are generally happy with the usual business drama. We’ll take a closer look at how you can create a little business drama on the intranet later (see “Getting Started and Other Pitfalls”).

A sustainable strategy like establishing a modern intranet will help achieve long-term success in an environment that is optimized for the short term and is sure to pay off for everyone involved. Don’t be put off by the fact that the greatest of successes can’t always be celebrated overnight. 

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The Social Intranet

Foster collaboration and strengthen communication. Be effective with enterprise intranets mobile and in the cloud.

Virtual Collaboration in Companies: Social Intranets as a Digital Home 

Never before has the business world been so overrun by cloud software and specialized vendors as it is now. There is so much software out there that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of things. It is all the more important for the future of work to have a place for digital meeting - a reliable home port meaningfully networked with numerous other systems that makes it quick and easy to navigate. This will increase transparency in the company and make collaboration more effective. Based on many years of experience, this book tells you how it already works in today's digitalized world and which trends you probably should rather than shouldn't follow.

About the author

Martin Seibert was 17 when he founded the software company Seibert Media. Twenty-four years later, it has nearly 200 employees and generates 35 million euros in annual sales. He has been sharing his enthusiasm for technology in YouTube videos for many years - and now also in his new book about social intranets.

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This content was last updated on 03/31/2021.

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