Could democracy be the future of business?

Inspired by a blog in Huffingron Post, “Can a Workplace Be Democratic?“, I facebooked, tweeted, and googleplussed it. It’s good to remember that  Worldblu’s “most democratic workplaces” are not alone. The highest potential of this blog contribution is not simply in informing us about is what is but in its “social” dimension: triggering a conversation about the broader trend that it reflects. That’s because the Worldblu awardees are a drop in the vast evolutionary momentum for autonomy, self-determination and self-organization everywhere, including the workplace.

Besides the examples in this blog, there are also a large number of companies that use the organizing models of holacracy and other approaches to having workers a bit more democracy, without questioning expropriation of labor asa common good by private interest, sold by consulting firms. Nevertheless they are supporting the momentum for more freedom, albeit without necessarily transcending the dominant paradigm of capitalist enterprise.

Worldblu and Holacracy are supporting that trend in different ways. The first is supporting what is already emerging, the yearning for more self-determination by naming and popularizing it; the second is inventing new practices that define new ways of organizing for it.

Both companies severely limit their economic potential, by doing business the old way, using the business model of the old capitalism, before the emergence of our networked economy: they find a niche in the market and are selling a service to it. They can choose to reman niche players, in spite their ambitious vision, or ride the trend to its fullest and reap immeasurably larger rewards, by becoming a platform for the evolutionary movement. What does that mean?

“A platform enables. IT HELPS OTHERS BUILD VALUE. Any company can be a platform… Platforms help users create products, businesses, communities, and networks of their own. If it is open and collaborative, those users may in turn add valu to the platform — a IBM does when it shares the improvements it makes in the open-source Linux operating system.” (What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis)

How would a company as a platform for a true “democracy in the enterprise” movement loo like? We don’t know but what we do fathom is that for it to be successful, it would need to form an alliance for mutual advantages: a company supported by the community partnering with the community supported by the company, respecting the autonomy of both…

What would it take for your company to become a platform? What fears you would need to face into, just to consider it?


One Response to “Could democracy be the future of business?”

  1. Bob Jacobson

    Well put, George. Realization and enlightenment — collective, communal, even global, as well as individual — are our human birthright. Making business an engine of ethical social change is the only right thing to do.


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