Workforce Democracy: Put heart back in the workplace

Mark Dowds, from Brainpark, is a leading thinker and practitioner in the emerging area of Workforce Democracy - an innovation which is beginning to radically change work places by replacing 'command and control' with self-organisation. I invited Mark to write a short intro on the subject as part of my "Think Differently" series because it resonates strongly with Bioteams.

Zombie at Work
Image Source:

Workforce Democracy: Put heart back in the workplace

This article is an introduction to the concept of self-management for modern corporations in a postmodern society. You can also watch a video which identifies the 8 main reasons you should consider seriously democratizing your workplace.

Since the time of Adam Smith and the beginning of capitalism the chasm between work and life has increased. On one hand we have worked hard in the western world to develop democracy under the foundations of authority, privacy, responsibility, and justice.

On the other hand we have focused on building management systems that operate under the simplistic perception of a machine where every part (person) needs managed. This in turn has grown to become an obvious incongruence and annoyance of many 21st Century citizens who no longer want to be the slaves of business owners.

The average person spends at least one third of their life at work and the economy is sustained by their efforts, however many still permit a manager to do their thinking for them. This stems from a philosophy proposed by Frederick W. Taylor in the late 19th century which sought to carefully plan daily tasks for each worker, standardize tasks and tools, provide good pay for good work and poor pay for failure, and remove all "brainwork" from the shop floor and place it in the planning department (Rarick, 1987).

The intent of this aspect of effective management in an industrial world was held within the framework of the modern dream, where a future was being created where citizens would be freer to enjoy life eventually. This deferred hope never arrived and many hearts grew sick giving way to an unsettled craving for more of life today.

A new generation of workers are becoming less tolerant of the managerial styles of traditional corporations and are looking for something more.They want to self-organize, bring their ideas and passion and want to be treated with respect. Some leaders roll their eyes when they hear the demands and expectations of these younger workers but the last 10 years has shown what they can do when left to their own devices. They have been able to create some of the world's most innovative and interesting new businesses that are slowly displacing the old.

Organizations today need to learn how to get their companies into the hands of their people who can think and organize collectively.This process of democratizing the workplace will enable companies to become more agile, innovative and profitable. Equally importantly it will help to increase employee engagement in the workplace.

Mark Dowds can be contacted via Brainpark.

Tags: , ,

Comments (0)| Related (3) |

Print this article

1 Comment

A timely reminder, on UK Election Day, of the need to re-humanize our organisations.


Bioteams Books Reviews

Business networks are biological

Business networks are biological

Networks competing with networks is the future for supply chains. Harvard Professor Marco Iansiti in his book "The Keystone Advantage: What the New Dynamics of Business Ecosystems Mean for Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability" predicts that the future business competition will not be between companies or even supply chains but between networks.

Buy it now from:


continue reading

Click here to check all Bioteams book reviews

Ken's LinkedIn Profile

Follow Ken's Blogs

NASA Widget2_160x40.jpg


Featured Categories

Trending Topics

agility analytics ants autopoiesis bees biomimicry bioteaming bioteams change management collaboration Collaboration collective intelligence community complex systems dashboards digital dashboards ecosystems excel experiential learning flock games high-performing teams HPT innovation leadership learning meetings mobile phones organizational teams penguins pheromones self-managed teams serious games simulators social media Social Networks social networks social software swarm swarm intelligence swarmteams teams teamwork The Networked Enterprise tit for tat VEN videos virtual communities virtual enterprise virtual enterprise networks virtual teams visualization web2.0 wisdom of crowds

Click for more...

Featured Article

Team joining hands

The secret DNA of high-performing virtual teams

Bioteaming – the secret to high-performing, self-organising, virtually networked teams... more

Locations of visitors to this page

Bioteams iphone app
Bioteams android app


Bioteams Lite


Latest Full Articles

Bioteams Assessor - Instantly check how good your team is?
BioScore Calculator – Instantly see if you need Bioteams
Discover Bioteams principles Yourself via Action Learning

Bioteams Manifesto

Communities and Networks Connection

Bioteams Ice-Breaker Zone

Only Fools and Horses Video Clip Funny Team Collaboration Video Dilbert Mission Statement Generator Ali G Video Funny Red Dwarf Video  FatherTed  Pixar

News Feed

Sign up for RSS   RSS Feed Subscription
        (What's RSS?)

10 Most popular posts

Recent posts


Download Browsealoud