Paul Dundon’s Weblog

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A little cheese and a little whine

Would You Work for This Company?

Would you enjoy working for a company that adopted the following principles? Before you get excited, I don’t think many such companies exist; the question is, would we like them to?

Democratic control of processes – no-one is to be expected to follow a process or procedure unless they have had a say in its definition. Processes and procedures are reviewed twice a year; anyone involved can propose changes; those who have to follow the procedure or work with its outcome get to vote on them.

Revenue sharing instead of salary – no-one draws a salary, but the revenue of the company, after debtors have been paid, is distributed amongst employees according to the contribution they make to the revenue (as determined by a democratically agreed protocol).

Control of capital – The same protocol governs how much of the company revenue is reinvested or invested elsewhere. This, and other factors affecting the use of revenue (eg how much the company pays for office space, what return it offers its investors) are controlled by policies which are democratically agreed at the lowest level possible.

Full engagement – you are invited to participate in any aspect of the business’s operation where you can demonstrate a reasonable degree of competence so that (a) you can, if you wish, follow a single product right the way through its lifecycle and (b) make full use of a diverse range of your own skills. Of course, if you focus on areas where your contribution is negligible, or fail to support others in making a contribution, this will be reflected in your remuneration.

Right of client veto – anyone involved in creating a product has a right of veto over the company selling that product to a particular customer. For example, anyone involved in producing a widget can veto the company selling those widgets to an arms manufacturer. For a very large production team, this right might be exercisable only if a quorum can be reached.

The idea underlying these principles is that they work against the phenomenon of alienation as described by Marx (at least, my rather meagre understanding of it). But, do they help? Would they make for a happier workplace? Which are important, and which are appealing? Does everyone feel the same way, or is this a workplace which some would love and others would hate? Would (dare I ask) these principles create businesses that succeed?

Answers on a postcard (or, more usefully, on the comment form below) please.

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Filed under: Psychology

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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