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Democracy at Work Institute

Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropo...
Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropolitan areas of the United States. Mortality is correlated with both income and inequality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

US Federation of Worker CooperativesTools

Publications

The Democracy at Work Institute expands the promise of cooperative business ownership to reach those communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality. It ensures that further growth in the worker cooperative movement is both rooted in worker cooperatives themselves and reaches out to new communities of worker-owners. Learn more…

Twin Pines, the international symbol for coope...
Twin Pines, the international symbol for cooperatives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

via Democracy at Work Institute.

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The Argument For Worker-Owned Tech Collectives ⚙ Co.Labs ⚙ code + community

The Argument For Worker-Owned Tech Collectives

Democratic technology companies offer benefits far beyond equity options and catered food, and now they’re banding together into a co-op network to take their influence to the next level.


 


 

For all the tales of gilded startup parties and billion-dollar valuations, tech workers are often the most overworked, misunderstood and undervalued employees. Others struggle as freelancers or attempt to launch their own businesses. In the face of all that hardship, developers like me are turning more and more to collectives.

 

I’ve been a part of the cooperative movement for eight years. During that time, I’ve visited conferences and cities all over the country to promote the worker-owned co-op I founded, The Toolbox for Education and Social Action, or TESA. (You might recognize the game I created there, Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives.)

 

While traveling the country, I’ve watched as the number of people launching co-ops has exploded, especially in tech world. And while they might be flying under the radar in the mainstream, they’re poised to shake up the way things are done. Just last month, eighteen of these cooperatives launched the Tech Co-op Network.

 

Here’s how technology co-ops work, and why you might want to join one.

 

The Cooperative Difference

 

Tech worker co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and operate across a wide variety of industries. From web development to graphic design, web hosting, engineering, manufacturing, and more–technology workers anywhere can band together to accomplish what they couldn’t do alone.

 

What makes cooperatives an exciting alternative is their structure: they are democratic businesses owned and operated equally by a specific membership. Some co-ops have memberships composed of only workers, some of consumers, some of producers. Each owner only has one share and one vote in the organization. During the good times, these co-op members share the benefits equally; and in the hard times, they share the burdens equitably. This makes them more sustainable in low-income communities as well as economic downturns. There are cooperative art galleries, cafes, print shops, farms, grocery stores, and much more.

 

To be clear, this is not like being offered a stock option in the company you work for. As an example, if a tech business earns five million dollars in profits, all of that money is typically controlled by one person, a small private group, or unevenly distributed amongst shareholders. In a worker co-op, however, each worker owns an equal share of the company’s finances. One worker, one share, one vote.

 

How Tech Co-ops Are Changing The Game

 

Sassafras Tech Collective is a young worker co-op, launched only six months ago, that focuses on web and app design and development for social justice orgs, non-profits, academics, artists, and others. The two founding members, Jill Dimond and Tom Smyth, began Sassafras after completing their PhDs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Both of their studies focused around issues of social change and technology. Dimond and Smyth, wanting to continue this work outside of academia, decided to launch a business that would make a difference in the world.

 

“In having a democratic workplace where everyone is a worker and an owner, we thought that we could help bring about social change by starting with ourselves,” Dimond says. “As a woman in technology, I have long been concerned about diversity issues in computing. By creating a more egalitarian workplace, we hope to also create a safe space for those who are underrepresented in tech such as women and people of color.”

 

This is an important point. The democratic nature of worker-owned businesses means they must be responsive to the needs of their membership, thus making them better suited to address issues of diversity. Historically, the tech world has not been a friendly space for women, and Dimond has firsthand experience with that issue.

 

“I still deal with stereotypes and issues as a woman when I go to various tech events and talk to prospective clients,” she says. “In a former job, I experienced sexual harassment from a client but I was not in a situation where I could do much about it. Being a worker-owner gives me agency about what kind of clients we take on and ensures that my voice will be heard.”

 

While both Dimond and Smyth have worked for major corporations–Dimond for Google and Smyth for Microsoft Research–they’re happy to be in a small co-op.

 

“We have more agency to determine what types of projects and work we want to do,” says Dimond.

 

Gaia Host Collective, another worker-owned entity, offers internet hosting services with an environmentally and socially sustainable business model. Gaia began when two neighbors purchased a fledgling web hosting service, starting them off with two servers and fifty monthly customers. Today, Gaia has grown all of those numbers: the servers, the worker-owners, and the clients. It hasn’t all been rosy, however. The first several years were a constant struggle, with members working long hours and barely scraping by financially.

 

And even though their employees (the worker-owners) aren’t making a killing just yet, the benefits they see from sharing the responsibilities of ownership go much deeper.

 

“We have a stable and growing financial outlook that we manage collectively as worker-owners,” says Charles Strader, one of the founding members. “Being a cooperative has benefited our workers with working flexible schedules, the ability to have passion and time for things outside of work, the ability to be supportive of social justice and environmental organizations and business allies as part of our regular for-profit work, to be able to have some freedom of geography in where we choose to live, to be able to work from home or from a coworking space,” says Strader. “There’s also a lot of intangible benefits to the camaraderie of being a co-owner in a worker cooperative that aren’t easily expressed as benefits.”

 

Gaia Host has been so pleased with the cooperative model that they and several other worker co-ops teamed up to produce “A Technology Freelancer’s Guide to Starting a Worker Collective” (PDF).

 

Isthmus, which began in 1980, is an engineering and manufacturing cooperative based in Madison, Wisconsin. Before starting the co-op, the four founding members left another company that treated them poorly and broke numerous promises. After trying to figure out how to make it on their own, the disgruntled, out-of-work employees settled on cooperation. To them, a co-op was the best structure that would ensure the business operated fairly, preventing repeats of the outrages that caused them to leave their former jobs.

 

Over the years, Isthmus has had great success with the model, and the democratic structure has given worker-owners the room to grow in ways that likely wouldn’t be the reality in typical workplaces.

 

“Most people are used to just being employees at other companies,” says Ole Olson, an engineer and worker-owner at Isthmus. “When given the responsibility and power to make their own decisions, it is amazing how some people change.”

 

“We work with several fortune 500 companies,” Olson adds. “When they first learn of us they don’t understand (or aren’t willing to accept) how our structure works. Once we have them as a customer—they are hooked.”

 

The Movement Grows: Launch Of The Tech Co-op Network

 

The cooperative model is much more than just another business structure that tech workers can consider when launching their ventures. It’s a growing movement.

 

On in late October, 18 worker co-ops joined together to launch the Tech Co-op Network. The Network’s purpose is to take cooperation in the tech world to the next level by fostering collaboration and mutual aid amongst worker-owned technology businesses. In the short time since its launch, the Network has already grown to a total of 23 members.

 

“Our members are small businesses, most with 3-10 worker-owners,” says Brent Emerson, a worker-owner with the Electric Embers Cooperative and coordinator of the new initiative. “The Network helps us market our services and collaborate on large projects that we wouldn’t be able to take on alone; to refer work to each other when we’re too busy and benefit from those referrals when we’re not; and to ask for and offer experienced advice about owning and operating small democratic businesses. And we assume that the network will be an evolving platform to enable projects and collaborations that we haven’t even yet envisioned.”

 

Right now, the Network provides a range of services including website and graphic design, web and email hosting, web development, IT consulting, training, computer repair and sales, social media, mobile application development, communications strategy, and more. And they plan to expand that list as their membership grows and diversifies.

 

Emerson also sees the launch of the network as a part of a larger trend.

 

“I think it’s fascinating that most of our oldest member co-ops were founded around 2001-2004, right after the dot com bubble collapsed,” Emerson says. “They’ve thrived over the past decade, but the pace of new business creation slowed a bit. Along comes another business cycle and the Great Recession, and from 2010-2013 we experienced another little boom: our community’s email list more than doubled in size, tech worker co-ops were a hot topic at conferences, and new co-ops started popping up left and right. I have the sense that, in our own tiny way, this community is telling the story of skilled workers being left behind by corporate America and responding by creating their own democratic alternatives.”

Brian Van Slyke is the founder of The Toolbox for Education and Social Action, a worker-owned cooperative. TESA creates educational resources on social and economic change issues, and works with other organizations to build engaging educational programs for their own causes. TESA published the award-winning Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives and offers several interactive online courses on co-ops and cooperation.ommunity.

Community wind energy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia reports on Wind Farm Cooperatives in Denmark and the United States.

Copied verbatim at 2:41 pm Thursday December 12th, 2013.

DanishWindTurbines.jpgDanishWindTurbines.jpg

See also: Wind power in Denmark and Middelgrunden

In Denmark, families were offered a tax exemption for generating their own electricity within their own or an adjoining commune.[4] By 2001 over 100,000 families belonged to wind turbine cooperatives, which had installed 86% of all the wind turbines in Denmark, a world leader in wind power.[5] Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Denmark, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role.[6]

In 1997, Samsø won a government competition to become a model renewable energy community. An offshore wind farm comprising 10 turbines (making a total of 21 altogether including land-based windmills), was completed, funded by the islanders.[7] Now 100% of its electricity comes from wind power and 75% of its heat comes from solar power and biomass energy.[8] An Energy Academy has opened in Ballen, with a visitor education center.[9]

Germany

See also: Wind power in Germany and Paderborn Wind Farm

In Germany, hundreds of thousands of people have invested in citizens\’ wind farms across the country and thousands of small and medium sized enterprises are running successful businesses in a new sector that in 2008 employed 90,000 people and generated 8 percent of Germany\’s electricity.[10] Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Germany, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role.[6]

In the German district of North Frisia there are more than 60 wind farms with a capacity of about 700 MW, and 90 percent are community-owned. North Frisia is seen to be a model location for community wind, leading the way for other regions, especially in southern Germany.[11]

United States

National Wind is a large-scale community wind project developer, with thirteen families of projects in development or operation. These projects have an aggregate capacity of over 4,000 MW. The vision of the company is to revitalize rural economies by promoting investment in domestic renewable energy resources. National Wind creates shared ownership with communities and allows them participation in decisions which are made.[24] In March 2009, National Wind formed Little Rock Wind LLC, its 7th Minnesota-based, community-owned wind energy company. The company will develop up to 150 MW of wind power within Big Stone County, Minnesota, over the next 5 to 7 years.[25]

As of 2012, OwnEnergy is currently the largest national company in community wind in the US. OwnEnergy has developed 27 community wind projects totalling more than 1,000 MW across 14 US states. The company’s strategy is to attend trade shows and “let the customers come to us” – ensuring that local support is already in place. A cornerstone of the company’s approach is that “profits will be reinvested into the community”.[26]

Goodhue Wind LLC is not a community wind development company in Goodhue County, Minnesota. The company intended to develop a 78 MW wind farm, which would have supplied electricity to Midwestern utilities and ultimately to Midwestern homes and businesses. Goodhue Wind expected the project to be operational between late 2009 and early 2010. But lack of true community support has delayed the project.[27]

Business models

Community shared ownership

In a community-based model, the developer/manager of a wind farm shares ownership of the project with area landowners and other community members. Property owners whose land was used for the wind farm are generally given a choice between a monthly cash lease and ownership units in the development. While some community wind projects, such as High Country Energy in southern Minnesota, issued public shares after the project’s formation, investment opportunities are usually offered to local citizens before the wind development is officially created.[28]

Cooperative

A wind turbine cooperative, also known as a wind energy cooperative, is a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise that follows the cooperative model, investing in wind turbines or wind farms.[29] The cooperative model was developed in Denmark. The model has also spread to Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, with isolated examples elsewhere.

Municipal

Some places have enacted policies to encourage development of municipally owned and operated wind turbines on town land. These projects are publicly owned and tax exempt. An example is the Hull Wind One project in Massachusetts’ Boston Harbor in 2001. A 660 kW wind turbine was installed, and is still a great example of small scale commercial wind.[30]

Impacts of community wind energy

Economic

Once a wind farm project is established in a community, jobs are needed for: manufacturing the materials needed to build the project, transportation of supplies to the project area, and construction of the project as well as building roads leading to the project. After the project is complete, jobs will be needed to maintain and operate the facility. According to a study by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, wind energy produces 27% more jobs per kilowatt-hour than coal plants and 66% more jobs than natural gas plants. 3.[31] Landowners will also collect revenues for hosting turbines on their property. Given a typical wind turbine spacing requirements, a 250-acre farm could increase annual farm income by $14,000 per year with little effect on their normal farming and ranching operations. 4.[31] Community wind energy projects increase local property taxes which were originally low because there was very little to be taxed due to the sparse population and vast farm land. Once the wind turbines are in service they are taxed, creating much needed revenue for the local community.

Social

The Midwest and the Great Plains regions in the United States are ideal areas for community wind energy projects; they are also often prone to drought. Fossil fuel plants use large amounts of water for cooling purposes which is detrimental to communities’ water supply if there is a drought. Wind turbines do not use any water since there is no considerable amount of heat produced during energy generation. Wind energy adds power to the electric grid which decreases the amount of oil needed to generate a community’s electricity. Local land owners, who produce the wind energy, can also control the amount of energy produced, which expands the regional energy mix. Overall community wind energy reduces the local community’s dependence on oil but, because of the subsidies involved, can greatly increase their costs for electricity.

Environmental

Livestock ignore wind turbines,[32] and continue to graze as they did before wind turbines were installed.

Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. Wind power consumes no fuel, and emits no air pollution, unlike fossil fuel power sources. The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months. While a wind farm may cover a large area of land, many land uses such as agriculture are compatible, with only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure made unavailable for use.[33]

There are reports of bird and bat mortality at wind turbines as there are around other artificial structures. The scale of the ecological impact may[34] or may not[35] be significant, depending on specific circumstances. Prevention and mitigation of wildlife fatalities, and protection of peat bogs,[36] affect the siting and operation of wind turbines.

There are anecdotal reports of negative effects from noise on people who live very close to wind turbines. Peer-reviewed research has generally not supported these statements.[37]

Policy, issues, and legislation

In 1992, the renewable energy production tax credit of 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour was established. In February 2009, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress acted to provide a three-year extension of the PTC through December 31, 2012.[38] Wind projects that were up and running in 2009 and 2010 can choose to receive a 30% investment tax credit instead of the PTC. The investment tax credit is also an option for wind projects that are in service before 2013 if the final construction is complete before the end of 2010. Smaller wind farms (100 kW or less) can receive a credit for 30% towards the cost of installment of the system. The ITC, written into law through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, is available for equipment installed from October 3, 2008 through December 31, 2016. The value of the credit is now uncapped, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[39]

In order to ensure wind energy’s future in the energy market, the renewable electricity standard (RES) is a policy in which market mechanisms guarantee a growing percentage of electricity produced comes from renewable sources, like wind energy. The RES exists in 28 states (not at a national level). An example is the Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan, which sets future goals of rapid renewable energy production at 10% by 2012.[39]

A pressing issue of concern is the lack of a modern interstate transmission grid which delivers carbon free electricity to customers. Currently the US Senate and the Natural Resources Committee have reported the bill out of committee on June 17, 2009. A combined energy and climate bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate this fall. In the US House of Representatives the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a comprehensive energy and climate bill on May 21, 2010.

The clean air and climate change policy is goal to switch from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable carbon-free energy sources for electricity production. Generating 20% of U.S. electricity from wind would be the climate equivalent of removing 140 million vehicles from the roadways. Currently the US Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works has control over the legislation and will begin to complete a markup by September 25, 2009. The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act on June 26, 2009, comprising a provision to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. It also allocates a portion of the allowances given away for free to energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, the allowances flow through state governments rather than directly to renewable generators.

Overall federal funding for community wind research and development is insufficient and even more so when compared to other fuels and energy sources. In 2009 the US Department of Energy (DOE) received $118 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for wind energy research and development. In 2010 the Senate passed a bill granting the DOE $85 million for the DOE wind program. For the same purpose, the House of Representatives allowed the DOE $70 million.

See also

via Community wind energy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Worker cooperative – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This was copied verbatim from Wikipedia.org at 2:24 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013

It is an introduction to lots of organiational forms which worker owned Co-ops have developed in countries across the world.

Typically, a member may only own one share to maintain the egalitarian ethos. Once brought in as a member, after a period of time on probation usually so the new candidate can be evaluated, he or she was given power to manage the coop, without \”ownership\” in the traditional sense. In the UK this system is known as common ownership.

Some of these early cooperatives still exist and most new worker cooperatives follow their lead and develop a relationship to capital that is more radical than the previous system of equity share ownership.

In Britain this type of cooperative was traditionally known as a producer cooperative, and, while it was overshadowed by the consumer and agricultural types, made up a small section of its own within the national apex body, the Cooperative Union. The \’new wave\’ of worker cooperatives that took off in Britain in the mid-1970s joined the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) as a separate federation. Buoyed up by the alternative and ecological movements and by the political drive to create jobs, the sector peaked at around 2,000 enterprises. However the growth rate slowed, the sector contracted, and in 2001 ICOM merged with the Co-operative Union (which was the federal body for consumer cooperatives) to create Co-operatives UK, thus reunifying the cooperative sector.

In 2008 Co-operatives UK launched The Worker Co-operative Code of Governance. An attempt to implement the ICA approved World Declaration.

 

In 2004 France had 1700 workers’ co-operatives, with 36,000 people working in them. The average size of a co-operative was 21 employees. More than 60% of co-operative employees were also members.[24] French workers’ co-operatives today include some large organisations such as Chèque Déjeuner and Acome. Other cooperatives whose names are generally known include the magazines Alternatives Economiques and Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, the driving school ECF CERCA and the toy manufacturer “Moulin Roty”.

Italy

The cooperative movement in Emilia-Romagna, Italy successfully melds two divergent philosophical currents: Socialism and Catholicism.[25] With more than a century of cooperative history, the region includes more than 8,000 cooperatives.

Norway

The best known example of a Norwegian worker cooperative is the employee-owned IT company Kantega, which several times has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Workplaces in Europe.

Spain

One of the world’s best known examples of worker cooperation is the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation in the Basque Country.[26]

UK

In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party‘s enthusiasm for worker cooperatives was at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s, with Tony Benn being a prominent advocate. A small number of such co-operatives were formed during the 1974 Labour Government as worker takeovers[8] following the bankruptcy of a private firm in a desperate attempt to save the jobs at risk. However the change in ownership structure was usually unable to resist the underlying commercial failure.[5] This was true in particular of the best known, the Meriden motor-cycle cooperative in the West Midlands which took over the assets of the ailing Triumph company, although there were instances of successful employee buy-outs of nationalised industries in the period, notably National Express.[27] Meanwhile many more worker co-operatives were founded as start-up businesses, and by the late 1980s there were some 2,000 in existence. Since then the number has declined considerably.

Under UK law there is no special legal structure for a “co-operative”.[12] Co-operatives are registered under either the Companies Act 2006 or the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (IPS).[28] A number of model rules have been devised to enable cooperatives to register under both acts; for workers’ cooperatives, these rules restrict membership to those who are employed by the workplace. Most workers’ co-operatives are incorporated bodies, which limits the liability if the co-operative fails and goes into liquidation.[12]

The largest examples of a British worker cooperatives include, Suma Wholefoods, Bristol-based Essential Trading Co-operative, Brighton-based Infinity Foods Cooperative Ltd and the retail giant John Lewis Partnership (although it only uses the term occasionally).[29]

Greece

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“The road” (Greek: Ο δρόμος) established in 2009 under the law 1667/1986 is the legal form of a direct non-profit work(er) collective running a coffee house named “The bench” (Greek: Το παγκάκι) in Athens. At this coffee shop, creative commons licenced public domain music is being heard and products from “The Seed” (Greek: Ο Σπόρος) and “Syn.All.Ois” (Greek: Συν.Αλλ.Οις), which are cooperatives for alternative and solidarity trade,[30] are being served. Syn.All.Ois is a work(er) coop that grew from within the voluntarily run “The Seed”.[31][32]
“Βelleville sin patron” (Greek: Όμορφη πόλη χωρίς αφεντικά) and “Colective Germinal” (Greek: Κολεκτίβα Ζερμινάλ) are two work(er) co-ops running in Thessaloniki.

via Worker cooperative – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

How Banishing Meetings Creates Great Leaders – Forbes

David K. Williams

David K. Williams, Contributor

A life long entrepreneur, I write about my life and business lessons.

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11/20/2013 @ 7:55AM |7,189 views

How Banishing Meetings Creates Great Leaders

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The meeting chairs at Fishbowl are empty. Everyone is \”in the arena\” working to create a remarkable Q4

The meeting chairs at Fishbowl are empty. Everyone is “in the arena” working to create a remarkable Q4

When we announced that our company, Fishbowl, eliminated meetings in Q4 we received some interesting feedback that ranged from “you could ruin everything you have worked for all year” to “the best award I ever received at a company was ‘Most Likely Not to Show Up to a Meeting.’ If there wasn’t a clear agenda or actual decisions being made I did not show. I’m a trouble maker that way,” posted by Peter Bookman.

We’re halfway through the fourth quarter and we’ve experienced some interesting results that have definitely surprised us and might surprise you, too. At first we were excited about the prospect of no more meetings. We did not anticipate that it would push us all out of our comfort zones. Our meetings might not have been highly productive, but they were comfortable and part of our routine. The more time we had to ourselves, the more problems our minds could come up with to worry about. What we think about grows; our brains are wired to think negatively as a means of self-preservation (I’ll share more on this topic in a future column).We made it over the first hurdle by endeavoring to focus our attention on what we have been trained to do at our company. We sell and service our inventory management software. And all might have been well except for the fact that everything that could go wrong did in October.

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October humbled and inspired us to create a better November. We also learned how to adjust quickly to unforeseen problems. We couldn’t have picked a more difficult month to cancel meetings. October kept us on our toes, brought us to our knees a few times, and provided ample reasons to celebrate.

Here’s a sample of our more interesting challenges and learning opportunities:

Our server went down during peak selling hours and our new phone system crashed and burned a few times.

An email that looked like it was from a customer launched a virus that shut down some of our internal systems.

At our annual Halloween party, the fog machines set off the smoke alarms and everyone was required to exit the building, including other tenants.

We barely made our revenue numbers. It wasn’t a chart-topping month, but we didn’t sink either.

These challenges provided us with an opportunity to take stock of how we could improve the company. Our October numbers were significantly higher than the previous year, but so were our costs of doing business. Without a single meeting, we knew exactly where to focus to finish the year strong. In business collaboration, the critical commodity is trust , and our team didn’t need meetings to resolve the items listed above.

Our Most Important Discoveries:

Without meetings there was no management drama-fest.

We discovered that some of our meetings caused us to over-analyze situations and to do everything but ask ourselves the most important question: How can we, as individuals, get up after a few stumbles and do better? We are only defeated when we start making excuses or blaming others. Life will always serve up an ample buffet of excuses that are great fodder for meetings. Instead of holding meetings, we acted quickly:

  • We implemented new programs to ensure our systems are better protected in the future. The decision to make the changes only took 30 minutes and the phones, email, and website are now working fine.
  • We all agreed to sell more today and not worry about what we didn’t sell in October. November is off to a great start. Our people are happier, more focused, and seem to be enjoying work more.
  • We accepted responsibility and apologized for our Halloween mishap that displaced several hundred workers. When it was all said and done, we made a few more friends and invited them to next year’s festivities (which we promised would be fog-free).
  • With or without meetings, we discovered that communication and connection is essential for companies to achieve lasting success.

No more meetings means leaders spend their time serving their employees, customers, and prospects.

Mary Michelle Scott, Fishbowl President, and I discovered that we could also use the gift of time to serve more internally and externally. We used the time to serve our employees by cleaning the kitchen areas, helping to plan holiday parties, and connecting with our employees who requested some personal time. We shared lunch breaks with employees who recently joined the company or were visiting from their New York and Australian offices. We found time to play a few games of pool and shuffleboard with the teams. We worked on developing new relationships for the company and even managed to add a few new partners and customers.

Some of our best decisions are not the result of management meetings or strategic planning.

Some of our best moves at our company are not well-thought-out, researched plans but just good old-fashioned luck and intuition. One of our employees recently introduced yoga to free the mind from judgment and worry.  We also discovered that providing cereal and clean, filtered water around the clock for all employees leads to happier workers. We set aside a small area of our building for exercise equipment and another area to relax and play pool, shuffleboard, mini-basketball, and golf.

These decisions required no meetings to micromanage or assess, and the costs involved are quite small while the returns are priceless. The ideas didn’t come from our leadership team, but from our employees who simply wanted to help their fellow coworkers.

We can work independently and yet in unison.

Our company is committed to our 7 Non-Negotiables, which we worked together to develop. We govern ourselves based on clear agreements with one another. I will admit that in October there were times when I wondered if everything would be all right. But everyone acted independently and in unison to pull us through the challenges. We are a team that is starting to come into its own.

November is looking good and I am happy to report that everyone seems happy, focused, and able to finish their work at a reasonable hour so they can get home to their friends and families, which is important to us. We respect that everyone at Fishbowl has commitments outside of work. As Thanksgiving approaches, we are especially grateful that our “no more meetings” policy freed up a little more time for our people.

David K. Williams is CEO of Fishbowl. Mary Michelle Scott is Fishbowl President.  The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, from Wiley Publishing, is one of Amazon’s Top 10 Recommended books and is available from Amazon.com.

via How Banishing Meetings Creates Great Leaders – Forbes.