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Organizational Democracy
July 4th, 2009 by Joca

Check out this video from Traci Fenton, WorldBlu CEO, on organizational democracy:

A brief summary of the above video:

The motivation

According to the Gallup Organization, 73% of the American workforce is disengaged at work.
In Japan is 91% of the Japanese workforce is disengaged at work.

The solution

We are talking about distributing leadership, distributing decision making in a way that makes sense. So maybe, the decision making process can sometimes, depending, be slower. But execution is so much faster. And the reason it is faster is because people have a buy-in, because they have been a part of the decision. They have ownership in that decision. They wanna see it succeed. and that’s what make execution so much faster. And that’s were most of the companies fail, on the execution.

At the WorldBlu website, we can find the principles:

The WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy™

1 :: Purpose and Vision
A democratic organization is clear about why it exists (its purpose) and where it is headed and what it hopes to achieve (its vision). These act as its true North, offering guidance and discipline to the organization’s direction.

2 :: Transparency
Say goodbye to the “secret society” mentality. Democratic organizations are transparent and open with employees about the financial health, strategy, and agenda of the organization.

3 :: Dialogue + Listening
Instead of the top-down monologue or dysfunctional silence that characterizes most workplaces, democratic organizations are committed to having conversations that bring out new levels of meaning and connection.

4 :: Fairness + Dignity
Democratic organizations are committed to fairness and dignity, not treating some people like “somebodies” and other people like “nobodies.”

5 :: Accountability
Democratic organizations point fingers, not in a blaming way but in a liberating way. They are crystal clear about who is accountable to whom and for what.

6 :: Individual + Collective
In democratic organizations, the individual is just as important as the whole, meaning employees are valued for their individual contribution as well as for what they do to help achieve the collective goals of the organization.

7 :: Choice
Democratic organizations thrive on giving employees meaningful choices.

8 :: Integrity
Integrity is the name of the game, and democratic companies have a lot of it. They understand that freedom takes discipline and also doing what is morally and ethically right.

9 :: Decentralization
Democratic organizations make sure power is appropriately shared and distributed among people throughout the organization.

10 :: Reflection + Evaluation
Democratic organizations are committed to continuous feedback and development and are willing to learn from the past and apply lessons to improve the future.

And the lessons learned:

1. The more complex the product or service your company is developing the more democratic the process should be.

2. Accountability — where everyone knows what he or she is responsible for and what everyone else is responsible for as well — is the best antidote to the entitlement mentality that plagues many companies.

3. Freedom takes discipline. It expects the best of each one of us.

4. Being democratic isn’t always easy. We’re all still learning and sometimes it can be really, really hard.

5. Sometimes even democratic leaders throw a fit. But just know that if they do, they feel really bad about it. 🙂

6. Being a democratic leader is all about tough love. Command and control or authoritarian leadership is easy. Democratic leadership – which requires heart and backbone — isn’t for the weak.

7. Running a company democratically is about changing people’s lives – as well as the world – for the better.

8. Try to take personality out of the equation. Develop robust democratic systems and processes based on principles, not personality.

9. The role of a CEO in a democratic company is to see the big picture, rally people around that vision, and make sure they have the tools they need to get it done. A democratic CEO must be an evangelist.

10. It’s all about positive peer pressure rather than creating a police state. Transparency creates the positive peer pressure on everyone.

11. Every company should have a VP of Transparency.

12. Democracy isn’t just great internally; it’s a great way to engage your customers and build brand loyalty too.

13. As long as people feel like there’s open communication, they don’t feel like they have have a ton of meetings.

14. When hiring for a democratic company, you have to look for people who can recover quickly. When the spotlight of transparency is always on — no matter your ups and downs – you have to be able to recover quickly and with grace. Not everyone can handle that, so chose your team wisely.

15. There are trade-offs to running a company democratically. You’re going to get noise, passion and confusion at times. The result, however, is more innovation, less turnover, a high quality product, etc. It’s worth the trade-offs.

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