Democracy in the Workplace

Posted by jlubans on August 10, 2018

In this blog’s never ending pursuit – like Superman – of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” – we note a couple interesting articles from the Wall Street Journal:
In “Yes, Ordinary Citizens Can Decide Complex Issues” James Fishkin elaborates on his application of “deliberative polling” to problem-solve community and national problems.
Working with “representative panels of the populace have helped choose energy policy in Texas, constitutional amendments in Mongolia, and other issues in 28 countries.”
Similar to the “Future Search” process, Deliberative Polling does appear to be a way to involve normal citizens in decision making and to find good solutions to difficult problems.
However, so-called experts lurking in the background may be helping a bit too much to shape the problem, discussion and selection of “answers”. We just can’t fully trust the regular “Joe” or “Jill”, can we?
The notion of including all types of workers in making decisions about an organization’s future is nothing new.
However, much of the discussion on why we should involve workers has been largely anecdotal and theoretical.
Now we have a large study to contradict the all too easy option of limiting innovation to elites or experts.
In “Why Innovation Is a Team Sport” Janaki Chadha reports on a new study’s conclusion “that companies where more people said they felt their ideas were sought out and valued tended to yield more revenue growth and employee productivity.”
The finding comes from a survey of a half million employees at nearly 800 companies. Companies found to be less welcoming and inclusive of ideas from all employees had poorer growth prospects.
For further reading on this fascinating topic of workplace democracy consider my essays on democratic bees, town hall meetings in Vermont and the old timey mustering process to select leaders (find these via the blog index).
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© Copyright John Lubans 2018
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