My personal reflections following 8 months of immersion into freedom and democracy at work.
The Power Question
So what did attendance at the Power Question do for me personally?
- It gave me a safe space to better understand what democracy at work actually meant and what difference it could make both to my organisation but most importantly to me personally
- The workshop offered a systemic way to unpick, better understand and move forward from my personal fears whether that be avoidance, ego or anything else.
One of my biggest “a-ha” moments from this workshop was that the majority of my fears/perceived issues at work were self-inflicted. They were fears that I was putting on myself by avoiding having the difficult conversations or by ‘assuming’ that what I believed to be true was exactly that. Lets remember to assume means to make an “ass” of “u” and “me.
- Included within my ticket price was two hours of coaching which I had with Traci herself. By the end of these two hours Traci had helped me put in place the first step in my personal transformation by helping me understand, for the first time in my 41 years on earth, what my personal purpose was which is
“To help humanity live a life of purpose, free from fear and with the opportunity to learn every day.”
Freedom Centred Leadership (FCL) Programme
To further support and amplify this new learning and understanding about a) democracy at work but b) myself I continued to invest in my personal development with WorldBlu as I took part, and continue to take part, in their freedom centred leadership programme.
This gamified platform is, to sum it up, next level. The programme is made up of 100 activity badges, 10 activity badges make up each of the 10 democratic principle badges, with all completed submissions being peer reviewed (8/10 on average is required to pass the badge)
These 10 democratic principles include accountability, transparency, decentralisation and individual & collective to give you a feel for the importance of these principles in today’s macro-environment within which we currently live.
To become a WorldBlu certified FCL one must successfully complete 5 activity badges for each of the 10 democratic principles with completion of a final FCL activity badge.
It is very thorough both in terms of depth of learning and the breadth of reading and reflection required which makes for a really high quality, immersive experience. I am 35 badges in and hope to secure FCL status by the end of 2018.
Freedom at Work Masterclass
Most recently I paid for myself to attend the WorldBlu freedom at work masterclass that took place at WD-40s global HQ in San Diego.
This experience was the next transformational piece for me in that:
· The two-day masterclass was led expertly by Traci who ensured that everyone was able to bring their whole self, safely and openly, to the masterclass which resulted in some fantastic, in-depth discussions and experimental learning
· I learned how to understand, design and implement the freedom at work model in its entirety
This was fascinating for me as someone that completed my level 7 course in OD last year, in which there was no reference at all to topics such as mind-set, accountability, choice, transparency etc OD models such as Burke-Litwin, whilst useful, do not proactively support the move from historic command & control structures to structures of more freedom/democracy at work and thus I feel the OD community would do well to better understand systems such as WorldBlus freedom at work model to help facilitate such a shift which is critical to an improved future of work, IMHO
· I shared the experience with some hugely inspirational people from organisations that are already practicing freedom at work and some that are interested, but not yet ready to implement it
· We were lucky enough to have a Q&A session with Garry Ridge, WD-40 CEO who then took us on an extensive tour of their San Diego which was mind-blowing!
Major takeaways for me from this talk/tour were:
– As a publicly traded company, freedom at work CAN be adopted but it takes strong CEO/senior leadership to manage expectations of the financial investors that this way is a longer term, sustainable investment and not a short term one
– The language that all colleagues of the tribe use is common. There is no confusion, no mixed messaging. Just clear, open communication which allows everyone to be able to do their best work with minimal conflict/wasted effort
– Freedom at work leads to every colleague feeling truly part of something special. WD-40s ‘tribe’ is not a cult. I have heard of many people challenging well aligned cultures and democracy as cults, but this just is not the case. For me in a cult I believe that only one person has a voice. At WD-40 everyone has a voice and evidence of this is that every single member of the WD-40 tribe looks up from their desk when someone walks past, with a genuine smile. Seem insignificant? It is not.
– Garry leads genuinely with his heart and this is represented in the design of the HQ which represents all of their end markets and includes a very well equipped state of the art gym, communal bikes for use by any employee, wellness rooms, ‘huddle’ rooms which are non-bookable and the list goes in. WD-40 truly believe that their no 1 focus (I deliberately do not use the word asset) is their people. They live and breathe the fact that only by their people loving what they do, can they deliver the best performance (and that performance is excellent by the way – check their annual report)
I feel blessed that I have been shown the door to a more humane, exciting and purposeful way of working in freedom during 2017 and I very much look forward to continuing my own journey, but I also hope to help those around me start theirs as well. The world needs more democracy at work.
I cannot recommend what WorldBlu are doing and stand for enough so if anyone is interested in learning more about my personal experiences to date, please do contact me directly and I will be happy to share that with you – PS for those that are maybe too afraid to make such a transformational shift towards freedom at work from traditional structures, please see below excerpt from their growth & resilience report – 7X performance vs S&P 500 average over 3 years