Don’t Raise the Bar; Find People Who Jump for Love of the Sky

Our guest speaker from the HR department made a tactical error one December evening in 1988: she thought she was asking a rhetorical question.

“Isn’t there a place for mediocre coworkers in a large organization?”

“NO!” we roared in unison. She was visibly shaken, and never quite got her talk going again. I think her point was that an organization must recognize the diversity of its workers’ abilities and make sure each is in the correct position, but this was not a group inclined to sit still long enough for nuance. These were Kinko’s Managers.

In a profit-sharing environment, the distaste for mediocrity is constant and organic. Each coworker’s ability impacts every coworker’s income, so the teams become highly self-selective. By definition, there is still “mediocrity” in any group, but the culture of a healthy self-governed organization naturally raises the median.

In such organizations, people don’t talk about raising the bar. They jump for the love of the sky.

You can learn about Kinko’s democracy in my book. Learn how to build the democratic organization of tomorrow at


This entry was posted in Leadership Competency, Management culture, Workplace Democracy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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