Democracy to play a role in future of corporate strategy: Fenton

Open-book management and limited hierarchy in the workplace are two important standard practices in promoting workplace democracy, says Traci Fenton.

Fenton is founder and CEO of WorldBlu Inc., a Washington D.C.-based company which specializes in organizational democracy. The company’s website defines organizational democracy as a “strategy for organizational design and a way of leading and managing an organization.”

Giving employees access to a company’s financial situation is one important standard in establishing democracy at work, she says. This practice allows employees to see how they fit into the overall financial picture of a company.

Thinning the line between the employer and employees and allowing employee input of ideas is another important practice, she says.

Although these are two big practices in democratic workplaces, there are others, says Fenton. She underscores that no single practice is better than others.

“It depends on the business,” she says.

A central factor in democratic companies, Fenton says, is the collective spirit in the workplace.

“What’s important is the spirit and the mindset of a company,” she says. “Every employee is different, but it’s a shared spirit of ‘how do we tap the full potential of our people?’”

Fenton, who makes presentations on democratic work environments, says there are “a lot of things” that differ between those companies and organizations which operate on democratic principles and those which do not.

“What I talk about is that non-democratic environments can be characterized as paternal and democratic environments as peer-to-peer,” she says.

And what role will organizational democracy play in the future of corporate planning?

“This is captivating the next generation of big thinking,” Fenton says.