The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar on “How to Design Democratic Management.” View the full webinar here.
Nicole Koch: This is really about sharing power and money. In order to share that power, the information has to be there, so that people know how to get involved and what the levers are that make change. For us [at Technicians for Sustainability], that access to information is essential. We talk a lot about rights and responsibilities…if people have a responsibility to make informed decisions, they need that good info— and they have that corresponding right to adequate information to support it.
So, how we do that? We do it in a few ways. We do use open book management; it’s really our own flavor, our own in-house style of that. We have a version for all employees that happens on a weekly basis through our email newsletter. We have some critical numbers we look at each week and keep an eye on, and those are meant to be a quick check-in for people, no matter where they are in the company or what their role is. Whether they started Monday, like one of [our] new staff members, or if they’ve been with us for 16 years, they can get a sense of where the company is and how they’re doing each week. Then we do a deeper dive version for owners once a month, which is looking at the financials. There’s a lot of education that happens in that. For some folks, even a couple of years into their ownership process, people are still learning and wrapping their heads around all the different aspects of our very complicated profit and loss balance sheet. We also work to build an understanding of strategic decisions as they’re made. If they’re made at the ownership level, those go out as cascading messages to all employees so that they can inquire about it, so they can learn about it, so they can sort of see behind the curtain as to how decisions are getting made, what the rationale is for decisions. [We do this] so that we can bring everyone along in that process of sort of learning the business, of doing our business.