Ways to Wiki: Establish Corporate Culture

Bookmark and Share Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Use a wiki to establish corporate cultureWhen a company is small, there's not a whole lot of thought given to defining "culture." The company's culture is tied directly to the personalities of the few  people who work there. If a company grows beyond the level where it can manage regular face to face interactions with all members of the team, that sense of belonging, of "being in it together" fades. As more and more people with more diverse experiences, points of view, and job responsibilities become part of the larger team - sometimes in different locations - teamwork and innovation gives rise to bureaucracy. When business growth necessitates hiring many employees quickly, that "special sauce" - the culture of your company is at risk of being covered up by mounting layers of this bureaucracy. The good news is, company growth means that you're on the right track. Whatever it is that you do, and the way you do it, has found traction in the market and you need to find ways to replicate it with new bodies coming in the front door.

Using a wiki to educate new employees not only to business process (How things work around here), but also the culture (Our Way) indoctrinates new hires into the inner circle, retaining the positive spirit that new hires bring to your organization, and accelerating the rate at which they become productive in their jobs. A highly functioning team doesn't need that layer of bureaucracy in between them to understand what needs to be done, but more importantly why it needs to be done.

Hubspot, an incredibly successful software company, has a well-established corporate wiki that we've talked about recently. But on the subject of using the wiki to establish culture, CEO Brian Halligan recently wrote "I personally write a new wiki article a couple of times a week about what is on my mind about the future of the company, problems I see that need to be solved, opportunities that I’d like folks to look into, board meeting notes, etc.  The articles are widely commented on and some of our best initiatives get spurred by these discussion threads.  Among my favorite articles written by other HubSpotters have the title “If I Were CEO Of HubSpot, I Would…”

Everyone can agree that when people in teams have mutual respect and admiration for one another, they're willing to work harder and take more risks than if they're working with a bunch of co-workers that they haven't connected with outside of the daily routines of the job. Using a wiki as a digital extension of face to face communication is a easy and effective way to establish corporate culture in a growing organization.

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