Blog > Peter Pula

Fenton picks perfect placement

The idea of democracy in the workplace will mean many things to many people.

To some it will suggest a completely different way of doing business.

To some it will be seen as already inherent in many corporate governance and ownership structures.

To others it will be seen as a simple representation, and natural fact, of work in the knowledge economy and age of the Internet.

And to others still it will simply mean having the authority, as an employee, to work when you wish, your own way, as long as the work gets done.

That is why there is great wisdom in how Traci Fenton, WorldBlu founder and convenor of the workplace democracy movement, has placed the idea and criteria for being a democratic workplace.

She has defined the idea with a balance of clarity and enough openness to create a big tent.

There are many ideas about workplace democracy to consider, and each of them deserves to be honoured in its own right. For each organization either grappling with organizational democracy or aspiring to it, different definitions of the idea will suit. There are not yet right ones and wrong ones. Where we draw the line is fuzzy and plays in the grey.

Within the confines of each element of a democratic workplace including; governance, ownership, decision-making processes, healthy transparency, the degree of control employees have over their daily work, democratization of the wealth produced — there are deep principles and details to contend with.

One of the dominant themes arising out of WorldBlu LIVE 2008 was that democracy in the workplace was most often and consistently expressed in the ownership over your work, when and how you do it, and less often in terms of ownership of the company itself.

The progression towards the democratization of wealth, or a company’s profits, moves along a spectrum with lots of room for discussion as well. Profit sharing is one method, ownership, and the distribution of dividends another.

In a one-member one-vote structure a strong governance structure and system of decision making is necessary to keep the politics and power of personality in check. And, in a one-vote-per-share environment there are decided principles at work favouring the power of the invested dollar.

It is how well the decisions in each of these arenas of democratic design balance together that in the end makes the difference.

There are many, many possible configurations. In true democratic fashion each of us has the freedom of association and with it the freedom of disassociation. In exercising that choice we will vote to join those organizations that create the configuration most suited to our own values and preferences. Those organizations that are most successful, most effective over time, will retain the best people. Over time we will see the strongest family of decisions pattern out and become self evident.

Traci’s WorldBlu Democratic Workplace Scorecard, is the perfect conduit for the time. Her categories and scoring provide focus on specific elements workplace democracy, point out their utility in creating effective organizations, and channel our best practices toward a new body of knowledge.

The more organizations participating in the WorldBlu survey the better. The more discussions and decisions around workplace democracy the faster we will together lift this model up as an answer to many of the world’s social and economic opportunities.

Blogger Profile

Peter Pula's picture

Peter Pula has been exploring the pathways to social evolution since founding the Grassroots Review in his hometown of Peterborough in 1992. Since then he has served on the boards of civil society and arts organizations and served as board president on two of them.

He has been actively involved in federal politics and led a corporate communications firm. Axiom News was incorporated under his leadership in 2009 and went on to establish the practice of Generative Journalism in an international arena.
In 2015, Axiom News founded and funded the Peterborough Dialogues in its hometown. The Peterborough Dialogues hosted over 350 deep community dialogues, established and refined hosting arts, and has had lasting impact in the Peterborough community. For this work in community, Peter was awarded the 2017 Brian L. Desbiens Community Service Award by Fleming College after being nominated by his peers and members of the community.

Peter works in support of deep democracy and passionately but lightly-held spaces for citizen-led community development. He believes that artfully hosted dialogue and generative media making are together a necessary social innovation for cultivating local-living abundance.

Peter is an artful dialogue host, newsroom director, team leader, mentor, trainer, and consultant. He can be a supportive force in the cultivation of initiatives in your community, network, or organization.

He has been invited to host dialogues, summits, workshops, and learning circles in Canada, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently in France.

If you would like to enjoy an exploratory conversation about engaging Peter in appropriate ways to enliven or enlighten your initiatives, you can reach him directly by writing to

Latest Blog

To reclaim our capacity to create the world we want to inhabit, we must prefigure that world in the way we gather and work together.

While deep dialogue, once experienced feels perfectly natural to us, it is not something we have built into the structure of our lives. It seems an anomaly, not the practice. Some structure for freedom, for belonging, containers, and practices make the difference. Martial artists, athletes, musicians, learn basic forms first. Basic forms teach us what gave birth to them. Practice in those forms builds muscle memory, cultivates understanding, and reveals insight.

Reclaiming Our Capacity to Create the World We Inhabit is Democracy in its Deepest Form

What's the point? Why is it important to deepen democracy? What does it mean to deepen democracy?

What deepening democracy does not mean is tinkering with electoral politics. Turn away from this in your thoughts before continuing. Put it behind you. Never mind left and right, liberal and conservative, democrat and republican. Forget for now the stories liberal humanism and global capitalism proffer. Press all that noise and distraction, the sturm and drang, the circus and its players, the side shows and arcades beyond the horizon of your periphery.

All this is escape, abstraction, excuse. Frenetic, restless, immovable. Exhausting. Diminishing. Disempowering. Far Away. Untouchable. Unreachable. Let's stop wasting our wild and precious lives there.

Beyond all that is a field. Let's meet there. Take a deep breath.

Twelve ways to deepen democracy where we live and work

The time to move well beyond representative democracy as the way we 'do democracy' is well upon us. Representative democracy has been found wanting. It has become the bastion of professional politicians, and the limits of its usefulness to the every day citizen are increasingly apparent. A strong argument can be made that worse than not being particularly useful, it has ensconced us in a system in which the political and state apparatus, in its habitual pattern, actually interferes with citizenry in a detrimental way. That does not mean that it must be abandoned, but it must be transcended. We must do better. And that means proliferating democracy into spaces where we as citizens can experience both agency and efficacy. 

What’s next for all of us is at the intersection between big and small, system and life world, institution and citizen

We are in a global storm of shifting sands. Big, having the uses it does, has reached the limits of its usefulness. Doing more and more of Big isn’t going to get us any more significant results than it already has.

During the last eight months, a small group of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners has been exploring Generative Journalism.

Unbearably practical words pointing to where new worlds of wonder await

So much mystery and romance are conjured by the word piano. The piano is a powerfully evocative musical instrument. A piano is capable of sounding as many notes, and by some mysterious art even more, as a pianist has fingers and in endless combination. The harpsichord, the piano’s predecessor, could do all that too.

Media shift towards civic communications is worth appreciating

Over the past two weeks, the journalistic stance of media here in Canada, and I suspect other countries, has been changing in a manner worth appreciating.