Having an Agenda – to build something

Welcome to the physical world!! Getting more physical means we want to get together with others and build something.

And that means meeting.

And that means: Agenda!

Agenda = what we want to talk about.

Each person has the power to contribute. Each person has their agenda.

As easy as saying what you want a group to discuss is perhaps the single most powerful force that any human has to contribute in any social group.

In ANY culture!

Once a person gets their own group talking about what that person wants, then that person has power.

Power to change, power to improve, power to guide that group. Power for anything they want.

Just by contributing.

(Did you know that most social media activity is from an active 0.1% or less of the audience. 1% can be moved to contribute in only simple ways (like pressing “like” in very rare cases). The rest: they just watch. That means in 1,000 people, only 1 will be active).

Do you know why? Fear.

And what is the number one killer of any business? Fear.

The same!

Ahhh, a clue!

Business success = doing what most others (99.9%) won’t do = be engaged! Move aside your fear.

So…..

Get engaged.

In a business setting Robert Kiyosaki has a good summary for any broad business agenda (and just use it – always copy when you can, and improve, improvise in time):

  1. Mission
  2. Team
  3. Leadership
  4. Cash flow
  5. Communications
  6. Systems
  7. Legal
  8. Product

So getting each one of these 8 items “handled” is my typical agenda.

What is yours?

The Economics of Good Team Work – The Easy Way to Improve Business Profits for the Long Term

I wrote this article for the Al Jarida newspaper and it was published on Saturday 21 February 2015.

Jeremiah Josey

This article took a full page to discuss the economics of good team work for a business.

It is published here:

Al Jarida Article 21 Feb 2015 (Go to page 12)

Al Jardia Page 12 - 21 Feb 2015

The Economics of Good Team Work – The Easy Way to Improve Business Profits for the Long Term

How do you improve human group dynamics and allow people be more productive, your business to be more profitable, groups to be self reliant, whilst at the same time have it be more satisfying, more rewarding and straight out more enjoyable for the individuals involved?

The solution: Develop a self organising, collaborative workplace (also known as in the industry as “Sociocracy“.

Many big companies have worked out how to do it, for exBMW at the Globalistample GE, BMW & Semco (a Brazilian manufacturing company). Many more practising the process have registered themselves at WorldBlu.com. While Worldblu calls it “democratic workplace”, it’s really more likely to be collaborative one, since when you have a flexible organisation, it is more likely that 100% consent is necessary to achieve anything, and not merely majority rules – what a democracy is. The key word here is “consent”.worldbluHow to achieve great success, with great results, rewards and satisfaction in a manner which is harmonious to the group, to other participants, and to the world in general? It is not through competition. It is through collaboration.

Much of the presently accepted models in many organisations are military style and competition based. Competition is a poor use of human potential. The autocratic leadership methods necessary lead to almost total staff disconnection. Poor performance, and whip-like management mentality becomes necessary to maintain performance. Such a culture is easy to start, and success may be evident and easy to measure, but it soon grows into a dismal forgotten failure as any long term success measures are applied – staff retention rates fall, production efficiency, product quality, and eventual profits follow soon after. It’s simply a dismal failure at humanity, at being human even. Even for those directly measured to have “succeeded” they experience high stress, poor health and eventual a short, and ultimately an unsatisfying life.

One of the most successful examples of collaboration has been documented by Ricardo Semler with his company Semco, today a billion dollar operation. He wrote two books about it: “Maverick” and “7 Day Weekend” where he explains everything in succinct terms. He took his small family run company and grew it into an international corporation whilst he progressively ceased his day to day operational involvement.

maverick

Semco has no official structure. It has no organizational chart. There’s no business plan or company strategy, no two-year or five-year plan, no goal or mission statement, no long-term budget. The company often does not have a fixed CEO. There are no vice presidents or chief officers for information technology or operations. There are no standards or

Ricardo Semler

practices. There’s no human resources department. There are no career plans, no job descriptions or employee contracts. No one approves reports or expense accounts. Supervision or monitoring of workers is rare indeed. Most important, success is not measured only in profit and growth.” Ricardo Semler, Founder of Semco

I personally have applied Semler’s processes to great success in my own endeavors. For example I’ve taken totally disconnected and non-performing employees, and turned them into stars, “fought” over within the office for new assignments. One of the very useful Semler tools I like to use often is the upward feedback tool. This provided management with very directly, and some times very revealing feedback on their own performance from their staff and employees.

I’ve been searching for a methodical system to describe Semler’s approach, and for a long time I called it “democratic” as he and many others have done. But I’ve never liked that, that word “democracy”. It is essentially a competitive system.

Dubbed “the worst form of government” by Winston Churchill, democratic environments automatically and immediately lead to the oppression of the minority and any group that contains oppression of any kind is never a good thing in the long term.

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one Winston Churchillpretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947

Democracy, by it’s very design, is an oppression regime: the oppression of a few by the many. “This is fair. It’s only natural”, I hear you say, but do you really think so? Is any oppression fair? Of anyone? It is quite plain to see that any minority oppression in a social group no matter how large or small, has an ultimately negative consequence. Suppressed negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions harbored by the minority can only grow and manifest in other forms. The costs – both social and financial, short term and long term – to control, pacify, down-right-openly-oppress increases for the majority. Then something curious happens: the majority find themselves the minority, the minority becomes the majority and the cycle is repeated. Back and forth, back and forth. Those once-were-majority of course hang onto their once-granted-power with great enthusiasm and vigor, as long as they are able. The majority learnt what to do while in power. They learnt the rules of the game. The Occupy Wall Street or “99% protests” were examples that highlighted how a majority can be controlled by a minority. The minority has a much better understanding of the rules.

An another example was the 2008 US election with Obama and McCain running against each other: it was 53% versus 46%. Is that a “democracy” when almost half of the people have to yield their desires for the other half? This is more like a society close to reorganization as the majority may soon become the minority. Such a shifting of power will occur either violently (like has been seen in many Arabic countries with the so called Arab Springs) or passively, as with not-even-newsworthy Iceland. In Iceland the people rejected the debt burden of the banks their brethren in government attempted to impose upon them from the financial meltdown of 2008. They arrested a number of bankers and changed their laws so it cannot happen again!

So, what is it? What is the magic that means a group of people will be inspired to performance, all by themselves, with little external influence, other than maybe “Go!”.

Studies have shown that for complex, creative projects, monetary incentives actually inhibits performance! It’s not carrot and stick that works best where creative thinking is required.

Much has been done on the subject and reading Semler’s “Maverick” and “7 Day Weekend” you’ll understand that it is an evolutionary process, and it occurs by consent of the individuals of the group.

“Consent” a better option.

This is the important word: consent.

Work that recent came to me by the Dutch thinker Gerard Endenburg offers very substantial physical elements to this evolutionary process. A good short summary of this thinking is in “Sociocracy: The Creative Forces of Self-Organization”, by Gerard Endenburg and John A Buck.

gerard Endenburg

These two resources: Semler’s books and Edenburg’s work combined results in a very harmonious outcome: the flexibility of the benefits, and the basic parameters on how to get there.

Endenburg defines four basic concepts for a self-organising group:

Four Principles of Sociocracy

  1. Consent: The principle of consent governs decision-making. Consent means no argued and paramount objection. In other words, a policy decision can only be made if nobody has a reasoned and paramount objection to it. Day-to-day decisions don’t require consent, but there must be consent about the use of other forms of decision-making, for example, for day-to-day operations.
  2. Election of Persons: Election of persons for functions and/or tasks takes place in accordance with the principle of consent and after open argumentation.
  3. Circle: The organisation maintains a structure for decision making, consisting of semi-autonomous circles (i.e. groups of individuals). Each circle has it’s own aim and organises the three functions of leading, doing, and measuring/feedback. A circle makes its own policy decisions by consent, maintains it’s own memory system, and develops itself through integral research, teaching and learning. A circle makes consent decisions only in special circle meetings (also called round table meetings).
  4. Double-linking: A circle is connection to the next higher circle in the organisation with a double link. This means that at least two persons, one being the functional leader of the circle and at least one delegate from the circle, are full members of the next higher circle.

With these four principles in place, more specific actions can occur. Here’s an example of a Sociocratic Circle Meeting, a meeting of consent:

Sociocratic Circle Meeting

  1. Opening round: a time to tune into the members. Like an orchestra just before a concert.
  2. Administrative concerns: such as announcements, time available for the meeting, consent to minutes of last meeting, date of next meeting, acceptance of the agenda.
  3. Content: First agenda item, second agenda item, etc
  4. Closing Round: a time to measure the meeting process. E.g. use of time, did the facilitator maintain equivalence, how could the decision-making have been more efficient, did everyone arrive prepared. Also this is a time to mention agenda items that should be on the agenda for the next meeting.

During the Circle Meeting there will be times to appoint a leader or a task or role or job to an individual. Here’s how it’s done:

Template for Sociocratic Elections

  1. Task: establish the job description and the period of time the person will perform the job.
  2. Ballots: Fill our ballots and hand to the election leader
  3. “Public Gossip”: each person says why they made their nomination
  4. Changes: Election leader asks each person if they want to change their votes based on the arguments they heard.
  5. Discussion: Election leader usually proposes a name after step 4. However they may ask for discussion if the arguments are very unclear – i.e. informal consent has not been reached.
  6. Consent round: Election leader asks each person if he of she consents to the proposed person, asking the person proposed last. If there is an objection, the election leader takes everyone back to step five before trying another consent round.

For making decisions by consent, a sociocratic organisation will operate in the following manner:

Template for making policy decisions by consent

  1. Consent to the issue(s) to be decided. “What’s the concern, problem or challenge?”
  2. Generate a proposal. “What’s our opinion?” Often a person or persons may be asked to prepare a proposal and bring it to the next meeting.
  3. Consent to the proposal. “What is our decision?”
    1. Present proposal – questions and discussion is for clarification only
    2. Quick reactions round – quick feedback about the proposal (intended to illicit the “feeling response”, and not the “thinking response”)
    3. Amendments – proposer amends proposal, if needed, based on the questions, discussions and quick reactions
    4. Consent round – collect and record any objections on a flip chart. No discussion at this time
    5. Discussion – improve proposal to deal with the objections if any
    6. Consent round – Each person indicates their consent to the proposal, with the proposer speaking last. If there are remaining objections, they are recorded (no discussion), everyone goes back to “Discussion”, before trying another consent round.

Implementing a self-organising group requires consent from the people who exert power over the group. Simply stated this means that senior management and/or organisation owners must support Sociocracy. Full stop. No “ifs”, “buts” or “maybes” or even “veto rights”. Otherwise internal fractures will be created when the a circle’s “assumed power” confronts the more senior “declared power”. If that happens, growth is stymied and a slide back to pseudo-autocratic or totalitarianism, or even democratic systems will follow.

The great thing about this Sociocratic process as described by Endenburg, is that it’s an excellent way to get self-organisation into an existing organisation without changing or upsetting the existing power structure. The magic then begins to happen and once the system is running well, initiatives and improvements emerge organically and naturally. There is no revolution, only evolution.

All companies and groups that utilise such or similar systems experience better performance, better products, innovation, higher moral, lower turnover, lower loss, lower costs.

Semler advocates this because, after all, he created the 7 day weekend!

7dayweekend

It is simply the human way to operate.

What could be better?

About the author

Mr. Jeremiah Emanuel Josey is an Australian who has been living in the Middle East for 7 years. Expert in the finance and energy markets, he is the Chairman of Swiss based Meci Group, a business and investment consultancy that operates across the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia.

See www.JeremiahJosey.com and www.Meci-Group.com for more.

meci group

The End of Oil? Oil Pricing for 2015 and the Rise of Solar Energy

I wrote this article for the Al Jarida newspaper and it was published on Saturday 24 January 2015.

It’s a further development of my previous blog on how technology is changing the way the energy market operates and how the oil price may never rise again.

It is published here:

Al Jarida Article 24 Jan 2015 (Go to Page 16)

Al Jarida

The End of Oil? Oil Pricing for 2015 and the Rise of Solar Energy

For oil prices, it’s a possible flat line in my opinion. Sideways. In fact with recent dramatic changes in the cost of energy we may be witnessing the end of oil. If oil stays low for long enough it may never rise again.

Said in June 2000, by Sheikh Zaki Yamani, former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia (1962–86), “Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the Oil Age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil.”

How so? I hear you ask. How have we reached the end of our modern “Stone Age”?

I say yes. Let’s have a look at why.

Economically, world energy has hit and passed a price equilibrium point between two competing mediums: fossil fuels, and solar energy. This means that how we do busy will change. And it will change rapidly now. For instance, mobile phones took out the land line market in a matter of years once mobile phones became cheap and available enough to do so. They were the better option technically and economically.

Energy from fossil fuels has historically been cheap and this enabled the great economic boom of the past 100 years: a population explosion from 1.7 billion people in 1900 to over 7 billion now, and GDP from $2.7 trillion (adjusted) to over $75 Trillion in roughly the same time period (per capita moving from $1,600 adj. to $10,000). The Green revolution (food production). The Technology revolution (computer development). The Connectivity Revolution (mobile phone & internet) and now the Knowledge revolution (P2P and social networking). All fuelled by cheap energy. And now this low cost energy has engineered it’s own replacement: Solar energy.

Looking closely at Illustration 1 below we see these low fossil energy prices. We also see the rise in crude oil prices to between $10 and $20 per mmbtu that caused the oil shocks of the 1970s. Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, attempted to rise in this time, but their high technology cost was so great that when oil prices dropped again in the mid 1980’s so did interest in alternative means of keeping us warm, cooking our food and illuminating our homes. Just keep burning fossil fuels was the acceptable, economic solution. That is until now. Solar technology costs have plummeted, especially in the last 6 years, coming from an astronomical $220/mmbtu to now being at the same level as Brent crude and LNG at around $15 per mmbtu. And it’s still falling.

Solar Price Falling

As far as economics go, fossil fuel prices are going the wrong way (up) and solar pricing is going the right way (down).

So what is really happening with the tumbling price of oil? Is Saudi Arabia attempting to displace US supply by shutting down high priced tight oil investments? Are there moves afoot to destabilise the Middle Eastern power base by cutting revenues of Iran for their support of the Syrian regime and other related matters? Are there plans to destroy the asset side of the Russian balance sheet and topple their eastern European hegemony?

Yes, it may be all, or some of these things. For now.

But these are still small compared to the impending impact of economics and the immutable power of the sun. I don’t think that solar prices are having any direct effect on oil demand right now, but I believe that very soon they will. We may find that the price of oil does not rise again, or if it does, not for very long before demand falls for the final time. Remember that more than 40% of crude oil consumption is by passenger vehicles and that’s an important fact when considering the low cost of generating power from the sun.

Led by their wallets, consumers will migrate towards solutions that are supported by lower cost energy and they will seek them out as manufactures support their demands. So it’s just a matter of availability of options. And what is the option for reducing energy costs: locally generated electricity for domestic consumption and electric vehicles or EVs for transport. EVs are 90 percent cheaper to fuel and maintain than gasoline cars (Rocky Mountain Institute).

Those options appear to ready now. Today, EVs can be purchased from many of the major vehicle manufactures from around the world. For instance BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Kia, Mahindra, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault and Tesla to name a few. In fact BMW are expected to phase out internal combustion engines within 10 years (Baron Funds, September 14, 2014). So that means within the very close and near future, almost half of the demand for crude oil will evaporate. The Sheik’s prediction will come true. And about the image of electric cars, in 2013 the fully electric Tesla Model S won the Car of the Year (Motor Trend) for all car types, not just EVs, and was quoted as being the best car ever tested. Ever!

What continues to drive down the cost of solar energy is mega solar projects and continued large scale PV installations. For example the Indian government has made its intentions clear to have 100 GW of installed generating capacity by 2022 and China are planning 100 GW by 2020. That’s the equivalent of 200 nuclear power stations. And pricing will be around $0.06 per kWh – on a par when levelled with present energy costs (nuclear, coal & LNG).

Is the fall in oil price here to stay. Perhaps not just yet. It depends the uptake of EVs, and that is a matter of their availability. But soon low oil prices will be here to stay.

Our choice in this energy shift is to be leaders or let others lead.

Author Deck

Mr. Jeremiah Josey is an Australian who has been living in the Middle East for 7 years. Knowledgeable in the technology and energy markets, he is the Chairman of Swiss based Meci Group, a business and investment consultancy that operates across the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia.

See www.JeremiahJosey.com and www.Meci-Group.com for more.

Seasons Greetings and Financial Events for 2015

Hello!

As we close the chapter on 2014 and turn our attention to what lies ahead for 2015, I think I can safely say that 2014 has been like no other.

I’ve been studying the financial markets for several years and the signs are approaching quickly now that indicate it is important to consider new investment strategies and different attitudes as we move into 2015 and the longer term.

Events like:

– Drop in oil price

– Sanctions against Russia

– US economy no longer able to maintain the look good image

– Trouble in the EU

– Impending collapse of world financial system

This video captures key events coming up:

Watch “Signs US Economy in Trouble, Russian Bear Not Wou…” on YouTube –

http://youtu.be/fAGksbTWdwo

This is scary news however there is a plan that can be followed:

This is what I recommend for 2015.

– Get as much excess cash and equity into silver and gold as you can.  75% silver. 25% gold.

– Focus on maintaining your income and reducing expenses.

– Expect deflation in the short term.  Very low interest rates.  A few months.

– There time enough to get organised.

– Borrow against your availabile equity and buy gold and silver.

– Then hyperinflation will kick in.  Slowly then very fast.  Everywhere.

– Property values will fall in real terms but the hyperinflation will hide it.

– Then sell some of the newly valued gold and silver to pay off the debt.  Because that amount of debt won’t change.

– Then wait for the right time to convert the gold and silver back into cash flow producing assets.

That will be in about 2 or 3 years as long as there is no war with Russia.

Otherwise 10 years…

The video above captures the key events coming up in the next few months:

– Weapons to Ukraine.

– Expected depression in the US xmas spending figures.

– A bankrupt EU.

The signs are indicating that it is time to change investment strategies.

I wish you the best for 2015 and let’s remember that good investors are making money when the markets are up and making much more when markets go down.

Best regards,

Jeremiah Josey
Meci-Group.com

Do You Find Business Hard or Easy?

I’ll say something about what I observe about business.

People starting out for the first time with little business history of their own or in their family believe they have to do it themselves.  That they can’t trust anyone.  And they are frequently trying to

It's About Freedom

It’s About Freedom

prove something to an often dead father.  Big successful business – you define your own measures of success – is not like this.  It’s about the exact opposite.

Successful business builds a team as quickly as possible.  They give trust first and then the mistrustful will show themselves. And they appreciate and recognized their father’s contribution to their live and go about to lead their own.  It’s a heck of a lot more fun that way too!

Jeremiah Josey

 

Discussion with Kuwaiti Member of Parliament

A few nights ago I met up with recently elected member of Kuwait parliament the Right Honourable Nawaf Al Fuzaia.  We discussed many things, one of which was about the prospect of doubling of the budget for the Government of Kuwait over the next 10 years.

That reminded me about C. Northcote Parkinson and his famous discussions around the same topic from the 1960’s – about what is now known as Parkinson’s Law.

To understand why Kuwait’s government budget will roughly double in the next 10 years, in summary, is because:

People, events, work, plants even, will expand to fill the space allocated to them. If there is no restraints on growth, then they will simply grow, and grow and grow.

Put more simply, Parkinson explains succinctly that in a world free of restraints, in government:

1. An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals,
2. Officials make work for each other.

To counter this one must place restraints.  Free Market economics works very well because businesses are profit based, so there is a natural restraint upon spending, on expenses. Therefore a business will only grow if it is needed, if it is good.  This is a vital restraint that is missing in most governments of the world: therefore a government will grow whether that growth is needed or not.

Restraints on budget (as for example, as a percentage of GDP), the number of people, limiting the value of government managed assets: these are ideas for restraints for government.  The State can still own assets, however they are privately managed and therefore profit based – this is a PPP – Public Private Partnership: a concept gaining popularity in many parts of the world.

Parkinson’s book is available online here: Parkinson’s Law

This was the general thread of some of our discussion that evening. It was a good night.

Jeremiah Josey

Eight Principles – Participative Management

This article draws from something I read recently by Joan Lancourt and Charles Savage called Organizational Transformation and the Changing Role of the Human Resource Function

What is participative management?

I call it the humanising style of management that I advocate and endorse. Most of my articles describe different aspects of it. The ultimate result is that we treat each other as adults, with sincerity, focus and honesty.

It is also a style of management that works.

It’s an open form of management where employees have strong decision-making roles. Participative management can be developed by owners, CEOs and management teams who strive to actively seek a strong cooperative relationship with their employees: their “co-workers” or “associates”. The advantages of participative management include increased productivity, improved quality, and reduced costs. Expansion of the groups activities and their successes is only limited by their imagination.

Beware however, as it is also a buzz word given lip service by companies appear egalitarian to their stakeholders. So if you have great work environment, and you want to shout out about it, have a third party such as WorldBlu endorse it.

Traci Fenton at WorldBlu lists the criteria in a very concise way, so I suggest heading on over to her site and checking it out. If your company is like this, then be listed by WorldBlu. Your employees will love the recognition and it will help your business in all the areas I discuss here.

Here are some companies very well engaged with participative management:

Joan Lancourt and Charles Savage studied these eight companies and their work makes for interesting reading.

There are eight core principles that two of the companies, W.L. Gore and Oticon developed, however they are in use by all companies that engage in participatory management to varying degrees.

These first four principles are from the company W.L. Gore Incorporated:

1. The Freedom Principle encourages associates to grow in knowledge, skill, and scope of responsibility.

2. The Waterline Principle states that mistakes, which are inevitable in any dynamic organization, “above the waterline” are not a serious offence. However, mistakes “below the water line” can sink the ship. Therefore, before taking a serious risk, associates need to check with other key people.

3. The Commitment Principle indicates that associates are expected to keep any commitments they make.

4. The Fairness Principle mandates that associates be fair to everyone else, including suppliers and customers.

Leadership at Gore is not positional; it is expected of everyone, and a natural leader is defined by his or her followers.

Malcolm Gladwell says this in his piece The Tipping Point says this: Small group peer pressure is much more powerful than the concept of a boss (page 186).

That is why this works. We love to belong to a successful group and our peers are quite to point out when we are not pulling our weight.

(By the way, Malcolm also covers these points which further describe why participatory management can be so successful: Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. I won’t cover them here, suffice to say organisations that apply them do exceptionally well).

The next four principles come from Oticon, where their set of core values to guide the work of the company emerged after hundreds of hours of discussion. These values supplanted the previous formal structures and formed the framework for the four operating principles which guide the transformed organization:

5. The Choice Principle states that employees may choose their projects and are also free to determine what training they need, their vacation schedules, and their working hours.

6. The Multijob Principle requires everyone to work on a project outside his or her area of prime competence. This is based on the assumption that “a top chip designer who performs a marketing function in one project becomes a much better chip designer. . . . because he sees the world stereophonically.”

7. The Transparency Principle promises that with almost no exceptions, every piece of information is available to everyone. The agility, integration, and alignment that result from this policy far outweigh any risk associated with openness.

8. The No Controls Principle means that projects emerge based on opportunity, need, and interest. Skunk works are common and, although there is a strategic plan, it is not interpreted rigidly.

Here are some other points raised by Lancourt and Savage with their work:

 In considering how to make the company a national player, Ralph Stayer of Johnsonville Foods came to realize that by keeping people dependent on him for leadership and decisions, he, not the employees, was the source of the problem. He likened the situation to that of a buffalo herd in which the herd simply follows the lead buffalo anywhere – even over a cliff. In contrast to the buffalo, in a flock of geese, each goose is responsible for getting itself to the flock’s destination. When the lead goose gets tired, another goose moves forward to take its place, assuring a fast and steady pace. To help Johnsonville Foods transform itself from a herd of unquestioning followers to a more empowered community, Stayer stopped merely delegating work and instead transferred ownership of the customer relationships to the organizational members.

At Semco, the leadership baton rotates every six months among the six “counselors” in an effort to void what other companies get stuck with -responsibility nailed down to a single man or woman. At Semco there’s no one to blame if the company goes down the drain. When financial performance is one person’s problem, then everyone else can relax. You get to pass on the baton, but it comes back again two-and-a-half years later.

Oticon and Semco have found that by openly sharing all information, including financial and salary information, with everyone, the company creates the alignment necessary to maintain order without having to impose controls from the top. This emphasis on shared values and widely available information brings us to a fourth theme: the way in which organizations have altered the language they use.

At Johnsonville Foods, the role of supervisor has been defined as that of “coordinator,” and the role of manager has become that of “coach.” At Oticon, managers are now “leaders” and “sponsors,” and “sponsorship” at W.L. Gore is also an important role. At Semco, the six senior executives have become “counselors,” and department heads are “partners.”

There you have it. A start at least anyway. Put it into practice and let your own groups’ style and community standards influence the result.

Jeremiah Josey