No two democratic organizations are alike. However, our research shows that democratic organizations often exhibit the following characteristics:
- Relationships are adult-to-adult, not parent-to-child.
- Leadership happens at every level of the organization, not just at the top.
- You're paid for the value you bring to the organization, not your job title.
- Everyone knows to whom and for what they're accountable.
- Transparency isn't considered scary.
- Formality and polices are avoided in favor of informality and principles.
- Humor and having fun is actually encouraged.
- You can access real-time financial information about your organization's performance anytime you want.
- Change = life, not death.
- The employee manual can be summed up in one sentence: "Use common sense!"
- You look forward to meetings where you can collaborate and share ideas.
- There's a spirit of ownership in every project in which you're involved.
- You either helped create or strongly share in the organization's purpose and vision statements.
- Incentives aren't used to motivate employees - meaningful work is.
- You never have to ask to go to the bathroom.
- Your life outside of work is as valued as your life at work.
- You receive real-time, ongoing constructive feedback from your co-workers, and you're often publicly acknowledged for excellent work.
- Failure is seen as a right-of-passage to success.
- Thinking differently and challenging assumptions is encouraged.
- Alignment comes from a shared sense of purpose, not automatic agreement.
- Your job is one of your favorite places to be.
Sound utopian? Hardly. Organizational democracy is more than a management or leadership style. It's both a mind-set and a system of principles practiced at all levels of a company as a coherent organizational system.
We're not talking about a bunch of job perks here. We're talking about creating an environment and culture any organization must develop in order to survive in a fast-paced, decentralized, and globalized world.
We're the people who design these kinds of organizations. Welcome to our world.