Monday, April 23, 2007

The Utopian Company

Having worked for a number of companies and been dissatisfied in one way or another with how each of them is organized, I've always been fascinated with the idea that there is a way to construct a business organization for the benefit of all employees, as well as ownership.

So, I've devoured articles on SAS Institute and Peoplesoft (remember them?), two benevolent dictatorships, and SAIC, the employee-owned company.

And in today's Wall Street Journal, we read about Ternary, a small software developer that runs its business as a democracy. One, in fact, that requires unanimous consent to ratify decisions.

No kidding.

Before you go trying to implement the Ternary model at your company, be advised that they have only thirteen employees and once spent two days trying to agree on a mission statement.

Yet, despite the tendency to joke about approaches like Ternary's, there is something about trying to create a better organization that I, for one, find very appealing. Why?

The Journal says this:

Advocates say such systems appeal to workers, particularly younger ones, searching for careers with meaning. "Everyone wants to be a somebody," says Traci Fenton, founder of WorldBlu Inc., a Washington organization that promotes workplace democracy.
(UPDATE: Here is the WorldBlu list of most democratic workplaces.)

(Photo by winterling)

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