What would be fun to try to create a better workplace?

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Everyone seems to agree that we need to transform our workplaces to make them both more human-friendly and productive. This would be the perfect time after more than a year of forced transformation. But most of the time, the people who want to do things a new way got about it in the old way.

Academics have conferences where academics, “thought leaders”, and high-visibility executives come together to listen to presentations and ponder. They produce long lists labeled “Action” something-or-other, even though you won’t notice much action. Most of them are wish lists put together by people who view the issue from afar.

Consultants and their firms develop cutting edge solutions. Just ask them. They claim results they don’t submit to third party verification and tell you that no one else has cracked the code. They insist you use their terminology when discussing workplace transformation. The jargon is part of their brand.

There’s got to be a better way. Here’s my idea. Let’s ask people for ideas and then experiment to discover what works.

Academics and consultants and pundits and bloggers are all welcome. So are lathe operators, customer service supervisors, writers, students, line workers, middle managers and CEOs. Anyone can play. There’s a lot of wisdom in the crowd. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

What if no one went to a meeting if they didn’t choose to?

What if we chose leaders from below instead of from above?

What if we gave everyone in the company time to “dabble” on a project of their own choosing? This has worked for 3M and Google. It  just might work for you.

What else? What ideas do you have? If it’s something you’ve seen work in the real world, let us know where. The three ideas above represent practices in place at W. L. Gore today.

Most of the good ideas are already out there someplace. And every good idea starts out in someone’s head.

Now it’s your turn. How can we make the workplace better?

You will find ideas about how the workplace could change in my 2018 list of the Best Books on 21st Century Management and Leadership. There are even more ideas in more recent books such as Brave New Work and Humanocracy.

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What People Are Saying

Doug Fine   |   03 Jun 2021   |   Reply

Provide 25-50K retention bonus every 5 years. This takes away the normal temptation for many people to “stray” or always being on the lookout for more more money. People can dedicate their best selves to their best work in helping their employer do great things. If they want to leave after the bonus, that’s on them, and perfectly acceptable. I didn’t dream this up, but I heard about the idea from a startup founder several years ago. He gave 50,000 every five years.

Wally Bock   |   03 Jun 2021   |   Reply

Thanks, Doug. That’s quite a plan.