In this model, the employee (1) is an activist, (2) largely working peer-to-peer, and (3) progressing towards (if not arriving at) self-management. Let me qualify the three components.
1) Activist. This means acting. The word activist contains the word act. This is activism within the company and with the company. The cause (model 3) is the company’s cause, not somebody else’s or that of an adopted NGO. Activist (act) is not the same as Advocate (endorse). Using employees as advocates for the reputation of the company, and calling them activists is flawed.
In this model, activist is another name for employee. Empowerment is a redundant word. Everybody on the payroll is defacto empowered.
(2) Peer-to peer. Work is organised (and most likely self-organised, although there may be different degrees within the company) as peer activity. The unit of work may be two or three people. Most progress (planning, decision, operations, control) is bottom-up. There is a top-down, well-defined framework, and well orchestrated Backstage Leadership TM that supports and enables without hindering the work through peer to peer networks.
(3) Self-management destination. I’ve written in these Daily Thoughts that the self-management train has left the station. The employee as an activist is a necessary ingredient. In this model there is little ‘permission’ requested from people, in favour of people taking action. There are no Ambassadors (people representing others), everybody represents himself or herself.
Pros. The model has the highest potential for employee engagement, since this bottom up, grass-roots driven, progressively self-managed and supported by Backstage Leadership TM workforce, contains most ‘with the company’ and ‘within the company’ components for such engagement.
Cons. Many people consider these approaches as only applicable to selected types of companies and industries. Many publicised examples of organizations navigating in these waters, are of software companies, which does not help in convincing other ‘harder industries’ that the principals may be equally relevant.
So what? Readers may identify here in this model the spirit of Viral Change TM. It would be pointless for me to be apologetic for my preferences! The Slideshare provides additional wrap up on these models, particularly on their pros and cons related to sustainability (of the engagement) and the degree of engagement itself. For example, the lowest in both (low sustainability, low engagement) is “Air time’.
These models are left here as tools, as bricks to build a house, not as pieces of dogma. It is perfectly reasonable to see ‘all of the above’ in one organization, to differing degrees. But there are choices to be made. If employee engagement is, for example, mainly biased towards model 1 or ‘Air time’, the organization will, look, feel and smell very different from organisations with another focus or, indeed, a combination of foci.
These Six Lego Pieces of Engagement will lead you, on their own or in combination, to very different lands.