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What do Writers Do?

In short: writers take a first crack at writing an article from scratch

Each topic will get"the wiki treatment" during the wikithon. This involves translating what's written in the Reinventing Organizations book into a page dedicated to a specific topic. Check out Compensation and Incentives as an example.

The goal in the medium term is that the wiki outgrows the book "Reinventing Organizations" (the book is frozen, whereas this wiki will evolve with the newer insights and examples). But to start on a solid and consistent foundation, we will start by staying close to the book at first. So if you are an expert in one topic (say you've thought a lot about performance management) and have many things to write about it that go beyond what's written in the book, the writer's week is not yet the moment to do that. What we hope to get at the end of the two-week wikithon is a full wiki that is both quite consistent and recognizable for people attracted by the book. And then we can start to let it evolve.

Yeah but, what do writers DO?

Many of us probably have this experience: writers stay up way too late, put together a few paragraphs, delete those paragraphs, bemoan ever aspiring to be a writer, bemoan ever being born, drink a little, and start over.

Luckily, here, that shouldn't be the case. We are not trying to create perfect pages, but to take a first solid crack at an article, knowing that editors might well make many small or larger changes afterwards. Please don't worry as much about writing quality and sterling prose, as about getting the essence of the topic into the page.

In practice

  • You choose 1 topic.
  • You dive deeply into the example article on Compensation and Incentives to understand the structure and tone of our wiki articles.
  • Then you dive deeply into what Reinventing Organizations says about the subject, and transpose/synthesize/rewrite it into the wiki article.
    • TIP: Check the index in the back of the book for all the disparate references to a particular topic scattered throughout the book. For example, Performance Management is mentioned several times throughout. How can you bring all the information scattered throughout the book forward into one comprehensive article? You might also make a mind-map of connected practices within a topic before you start writing, and research their occurences throughout the book, pulling them together into the final article.
  • If interested, you can skype-a-friend to take a few minutes with Fred as a sparring partner, we can jointly think through how to structure the content, what depth/breadth to include, or how a specific topic shows up in Red, Amber, Orange or Green.
  • And if you have additional, relevant knowledge or examples that go beyond the book, you can write these in the discussion page of the article. During the editing week we might start including some of this already if we collectively feel the content is ready to be enriched.

How many topics are assigned to writers, and how do they know which topic is theirs?

At the moment, the goal is for each writer to choose one topic and "claim" it on this page. This will allow you to dive deeply into a topic. It will also allow lots of people to contribute (hence the "one topic per writer" guideline).

It might be a good idea to pick a topic in which you're not exactly an expert. It might help maintaining point of view. And you might learn something!

Do's and dont's of good writing for this wiki

  • Do: respect the structure of the wiki article, for the sake of coherence across articles
  • Do: try to also stay in the style of the example article, again for the sake of coherence
  • Do: have fun, and interact on the Facebook group with other participants, if you want
  • Dont: don't invest your ego into the article. Other people will add, edit, remove from "your" article, so it will be much less painful if you simply consider yourself as the first to take a crack :-)
  • Dont: don't fill the article with your favorite technique or your favorite company. Say you write about meetings, don't make the article an endorsement for your preferred meeting technique. 

What about "style?"

While celebrating the uniqueness of each contribution, it's important that we adopt a few style guidelines to make sure the wiki is as easy to read and apply as possible. Hereare the guidelines we've come up with so far.

  • Unlike Wikipedia pages, the Reinventing Organizations Wiki doesn't aim for a "neutral point of view" (which means trying to summarize the dominant academic thinking). We have a clear point of view, advocating for more advanced practices than what is told in most business schools.
  • Strive for a dispassionate style. For example, when writing about a particular topic, avoid superlatives ("this compensation model is the best!") This more informal language is fully appropriate in discussions forums, not so much in this wiki. 
  • Aim for the fewest words possible to achieve clarity.
  • Avoid jargon, business-speak, and getting lost in a forest of acronyms.
  • For any meta-discussion about the article, use the discussion page of the article (every wiki page has its own discussion page) so that the article itself is all about the content. 

What if I'm not that into writing, but I want to mess around with others' writing?

Ah! Then you must be an editor. That's important too. Click here to check out the editors' page.

Tom's Suggested Writing Guidelines

These guidelines are currently subject to suggestion and refinement prior to the wikithon. Please help us improve them by discussing them on the Writer's Talk page, here.


Pertaining to Chapter 241 of Reinventing Organizations: How to format a related Wiki.

By Tom Christensen, K.O.N.

Updated: 7 May, 2015

This is a draft provided with the expectation that readers will advise changes they see appropriate.

1) Colors. Capitalize first letter, when color refers to a level, e.g. Orange, Teal, etc.

2) Colors as adjectives: Capitalize only the first letter of color and NOT first letter of subject, e.g. Orange organizations, Teal efforts, Red history.

3) Punctuation: Use USA English conventions.

4) Spelling: Use USA English spelling.

5) Bibliography entry: If you refer to publications other than RO, use the following formats to record them in the bibliography:

a. Books: Earp, Wyatt. Organizing Gunfights in Early Southwest Communities. Pima County Publishers, Tombstone, AZ, USA (1928).

b. Periodicals: Holiday, Doc. “Friends and Enemies.” Personal Relationships in Pima County, Vol 1, No 1 (1929): 22-45.

c. The above follows the Chicago Style manual. If you have other kinds of pubs, see here for formatting: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/04/