Fully Human Work Env. LO6692

Terri Deems (tdeems@unlgrad1.unl.edu)
Sun, 14 Apr 1996 22:24:39 -0500 (CDT)

Dear Group,

I am embarking on my dissertation research, and want to ask your help
(already, I see some of you cringe--better just delete this now :') I'll
be sending this to multiple lists, so my apologies if you receive this
more than once.

My first step is to find national/international organizations that are
working to create a more "fully human" work environment. By this I am
thinking of organizations that seem to have cultivated a deep social
consciousness, directed both inwardly and outwardly to the broader
community. Such organizations are referred to differently in different
literatures: natural, vital, developmental, spiritual, mindful, conscious,
transformed, value-directed, to name but a few.

My "criteria" for such companies is ill-formed (but will become better
formed as I look at more actual organizations, I think) but some
characteristics include a pervasive sense of creative energy, joy and
pride in work, of respect for others, reverence for life and for
community/connectedness, an awareness that profits are not an end in
themselves but rather a means to an end, and a clear concern--especially
from the "top" (of which there isn't much!)--for how workers experience
and make meaning of work.

Of the places I've looked at (e.g., Semco), work appears to be organized
and structured from the "bottom" up rather than the top down. Examples of
processes and procedures might include democratic work groups, peer
evaluations, work groups responsible for (or at least playing a major role
in) their own hiring (including mgt and supervisors), "play" labs, full
profit sharing with distribution determined by the group, etc. People
seem not to be afraid of fully engaging with each other within the
workplace, even in conflict. There is little appropriation by management
for how work is conducted, and there exists a keen awareness by mgt of
meanings, values, beliefs, communicated through organizational symbols,
processes, and procedures (I think this is more intuitive than explicit).
Such organizations are highly participatory, and may be considered
"learning organizations," but not all LO's or participatory workplaces
would fall into this category. These organizations may be large or small;
regardless, they hold their own in today's marketplace and are perhaps
exemplars at absorbing--not simply "managing"--change.

My sense is that if you know of such places, my description--vague as it
is--will resonate with you. If you've not run into such places, all of
this will be irrelevant! I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has
run across this type of organization, either first hand or through related
literature. What would be most helpful is if you could provide the
organization's name, and perhaps an address and contact person, if you
know of them.

I will compile the information I receive and would be happy to share that
or my research direction with anyone who is interested--just drop me a

Many, many thanks for your help!

Terri Deems

tdeems@unlgrad1.unl.edu (Terri Deems)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>