Organization and Democracy

Designing an organization is almost the same as designing a society. They are particularly similar when we look at how governance and self-improvement can happen.

If we believe that democracy is the best form of governance we’ve got so far, then why don’t we also believe that we need to build democracy into our organization, one with democratic oversight?

How come we think it’s okay for organizations to have authoritarian governance, processes, structures and cultures?

The fundamental quality of both a society and an organization is self-improvement. Democratic principles afford a reasonably effective mechanism for a society’s self-improvement despite bad actors and emergent contingencies, in ways that authoritarian principles often can’t.

Somehow, we think there are better ways than democracy for organization’s self-improvement. And somehow we think one better way is an authoritarian approach.

What makes democracy work is its appeal to people’s emotions and its stronghold on people’s confidence (in their leaders). It’s the combination of goodwill and balance.

What makes authoritarianism work? Fear, oppression and willing subordination? How do we talk about trust, principle and integrity in an authoritarian context?

What’s more ridiculous, an authoritarian society full of authoritarian organizations, or a democratic society full of authoritarian organizations?

I think it’s the latter.

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