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Resources on Participation

Make Your Own Zone Chart: The Frontiers and Boundaries Handbook

The Ownership Culture Report: Participation and Decision Making

Index of Articles on Participation


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Participation: Evaluating Involvement Systems

In this section:


Ownership and Decision Making


Managing Expectations

Corporate Performance

Ownership Responsibilities

Evaluating Involvement Systems

"Zone Charts"

Advanced Tools

Case Study

OA Services

Decision making systems should balance a number of principles.

The fundamental principle is the "common sense" rule: the purpose of all decisions is to make the company better. Any decision or tool that does not meet this criterion should be abandoned.

A successful decision-making system should:

  1. Be transparent and promote accountability
  2. Ensure psychological safety for all
  3. "No surprises": the system should be predictable
  4. Include a mechanism for the system to adapt itself over time
  5. Link explicitly to the concept of employee-involvement
  6. Respect expertise
  7. Be as inclusive as possible
  8. Promote independent deliberation
  9. Build in communication and feedback
  10. Ensure the ability to make quick decisions when needed
  11. Obey all laws and regulations

Some of these principles are in tension with each other. For example, #1, the need for accountability and transparency, may be unwelcome to people making difficult or unpopular decisions and compromise their psychological safety (#2).

Other items that may be in tension are

6. Respect expertise, and
7. Be as inclusive as possible


9. Build in communication and feedback, and
10. Ensure ability to make quick decisions when needed

The Frontiers and Boundaries process will not guarantee companies a system that meets all of the principles described here: the process is primarily about communications and clarity and it will help companies meet principles 1 through 6.

Goals are best addressed by making changes in decision-making systems to ensure increased levels of employee involvement and information sharing. The Decision Grids and Decision Reports, introduced in advanced tools, are aimed at these goals.

"Zone Charts"

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