Thoughts On A Healthy Franchise Business and Organizational Democracy

Thoughts On A Healthy Franchise Business and Organizational Democracy

Sometimes You Need to Get in the Way

I read some survey comments this morning that collectively answered a question for me that I have been struggling with, literally, for years.  

We have a long history with WorldBlu (a worldwide organization that promotes workplace democracy). I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Worldblu for many years.  Their founder and my good friend Traci Fenton has taught me organizational democracy is about sustainability, freedom and equity, without chaos.  It is about input, fairness and open thought, yet it is not about stifling decisions.  It is about processes where all constituents are fairly represented with the understanding that the ultimate outcome is a well-thought-out decision. So what matters most is a process that ensures equity, sustainability and open thought. 

I have struggled with how that applies in Great Harvest in our Freedom Franchise world.  I have always thought we lived those ideals, but not everyone agrees with me, so I have tried to reconcile that fact with how I interpret the WorldBlu movement as it applies to Great Harvest.  

Great Harvest photo

I have said “select the right people, give them the right direction and get out of their way.”  My struggles have come with times I have had to get in someone’s way.  None of us are perfect and sometimes that is a necessary evil.  But it bugs me. 

I have spent way too much time over the last five years trying to decide if I was nuts (that is surely another blog), or if the WorldBlu movement was missing something (not even close) or if I was having a definitional or communication problem  (yep, that is what I figured out this morning). 

Collectively the survey comments I read said to me, and this is restated into my words, “Great Harvest creates a work environment where I have the freedom to succeed and fail equally.  It doesn’t judge.  It is safe.  It gives me confidence to push boundaries and create exciting work and know that I have a safety net.  I am not only allowed to be creative and solve problems, it is expected of me.  Among my co-workers I always have a community of support and love which lets us all become stronger and makes us continue to learn and grow.”  Bingo!  That is it. 

Sure, in many ways, that is “hire the right people and get out of their way,” but these thoughts are much more.  And, here is the “AH HA” moment for me.  Sometimes you do get in the way.  You don’t always hire the right person and you definitely have to get in the way then, but that is not what I am talking about.  

Getting in the way can be positive!  Once you set up the right culture, it is okay for anyone to get in anyone else’s way as long is it lives up to the shared promise, and safety net, that it we will be safe, exciting, pushing boundaries, exciting, fun, happy, and creative process.  Once you get there, you are truly free.  That, my friends, is organizational democracy at work. 

Thanks for reading. 

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