Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales launched the revolutionary Wikipedia website on January 15, 2001. Wikipedia saw tremendous growth in the years following its launch and was seen as an immediate success. Now, only 14 years after its launch, Wikipedia has over 56 million registered users and has published over 35 million articles. Everyone has different ideas, opinions, and advice to give, but it's the combination of that collective wisdom that can produce tremendous results
Wikipedia can only function with the collaboration of its millions of users who share their opinions by writing and editing articles. What baffles many is the question of why over 56 million people would want to contribute to a Wikipedia article when they receive no recognition or compensation in return. According to a 2011 Wikimedia Survey, 69% of Wikipedia users contribute to the website simply because they “liked the idea of volunteering to share knowledge.”
From shared writing to shared insights
If this kind of cooperation is possible from individuals who want to improve articles, why don’t decision makers use this model to improve their own businesses and organizations?
When people get together to come up with ideas, the results are incredible. Everyone has different ideas, opinions, and advice to give, but it's the combination of that collective wisdom that can produce tremendous results. Combining multiple opinions into useful insights can help decision makers make effective and well thought-out decisions and can result in ideas that the decision maker would have never thought of on his or her own. This is the power of Wikipedia, and we can all learn something from this internet powerhouse.
Lessons from the Wikipedia model
Here are the top 3 lessons decision makers can learn from the Wikipedia model:
People want to contribute their advice.
With Wikipedia, hundreds of thousands of users invest time and effort to collectively create and curate the world’s largest online encyclopedia. Wikipedia’s survey shows that stakeholders want to share their advice with others. Your stakeholders probably want to share their advice with you, too. Give them a chance to do so and you’ll reap the benefits from their collective knowledge and advice that can be helpful when making decisions.
There’s power in numbers.
By harnessing the wisdom of crowds, Wikipedia utilizes the power of joint creation to build an unmatched supply of articles. Similarly, for a decision maker, it’s important to understand that one voice is not enough when making a decision. Using the advice of your employees, clients, and peers can help decision makers make more “well-rounded” and thought-out decisions. Such results are only possible when multiple opinions are considered.
Your stakeholders are the best source of knowledge and advice.
For Wikipedia, advice and knowledge come from their most essential stakeholders: their users. Each user has a different strength and when users work together, a complete, comprehensive, and relevant article results. The same model can be used in your business when making decisions. Every one of your stakeholders–your employees, clients, and citizens–possesses an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise with a unique point of view. When the advice of your stakeholders is combined, stronger decisions can be made.
It's all about your stakeholders
You already have the most powerful decision making tool at your fingertips: your stakeholders. Wikipedia has leveraged its stakeholders in the right way.