More participation means more competitiveness

There's a recurring theme running throughout the immense majority of my conversations about company strategy, namely, the concern over sustainable mechanisms in order to compete worldwide. As a result, in such a growingly complex competitive environment, seeking out these mechanisms takes on great importance, given the appearance in emerging economies of innovative business models and companies becoming faster and stronger in their capabilities.

Against this backdrop, creating mechanisms of worker participation in an organisation stands out as one of the key levers to achieving differentiation from competitors, in addition to capitalising on all the accumulated potential within the company. Practically all leading business thinkers today agree with the following quote: "Designing new business models based on the smart participation of the people within the organisation is the sole source of competitive advantage." Although this quote is by Gary Hamel, there are quotes by many other thinkers which point in the same direction.

The company is one of the essential elements in encouraging the transformation process of the social model: it’s the backbone of wealth creation, social inclusion and encouraging RD&i. Therefore, we need more open and democratic companies where people can find the right environment for their personal and professional development.

Today, and more than ever, business projects must possess a holistic vision of their activity, and they must put into place mechanisms which facilitate their sustained and profitable development in an ecosystem of commitment to both society and to people. To that end, we need to create models for future generations to follow, and we need to commit the company to the Community. In doing so, we can create welfare and employment, while ensuring the sustainability of business projects. May we do so not only out of necessity, but out of conviction as well.

Certainly, increased participation, when inclusive of all company employees, brings with it a series of advantages which can help guarantee the competitiveness of the business plan over the long-term. Employee participation creates a shared project amongst organisation members which facilitates the management process, and strengthens the sustainability of the business project. Aside from encouraging greater individual responsibility in all spheres of the company, it also forges greater emotional ties with both the business plan and goals. Furthermore, employee participation democratises the organisation, and establishes a new framework of personal and working relationships not based on confrontation, but rather on a common goal to attain enhanced levels of transparency and shared responsibility, etc.

How we set up and manage the active participation of people in our future projects strongly conditions the level of commitment within organisations. In my opinion, we urgently need to structure companies as Communities of People, while creating mechanisms of participation, responsibility, cooperation, and attracting talent, and so on. These are some of the foundation stones to building a specific and competitive organisation identity with a unique and non-transferrable business model.

These times of change offer some windows of opportunity, and this just happens to be one of them. I believe this to be the opportune time to embrace and implement a practice of business management in our society which facilitates flexible employee participation so that it is adequately adjusted to the specific history and conditions of each organisation.

Read the original article published in El País (Spanish).

 

Sabin Azua

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