The Great Work Cultures Initiative: Raise a Big Tent, Invite a Million Friends

Originally published by the Great Work Cultures Initiative

Great work practices are deeply respectful of all workers. Respectful cultures unleash those workers’ potential and empower them to do excellent work. What’s not to like? Great work cultures are good for productivity and great for people.

Engagement Research

So why do worker satisfaction stats show less than 20% of workers satisfied with their jobs and a majority of workers reporting they are unhappy in their jobs? We believe that dismal situation results from the fact that most work cultures are anything but respectful.

The Clarion Call

We have benefited from visionary leaders telling their personal stories and promoting a variety of excellent workplace practices. There are inspirational speakers, thinkers, academics and consultants that speak to the power of teams, trust, results based management and more… but deep broad change is hard to achieve and when change succeeds, it requires ongoing maintenance. In spite of many brilliant success stories to emulate, great workplaces continue to be the exception rather than the norm.

It is human nature to avoid change and minimize risk. And even in enlightened work environments, the forces of organizational gravity can draw groups toward less evolved more primal interactions rooted in dominance and fear.

Only a sustained focus on respect and widespread empowerment can produce the kind of culture that values every human being and enables each of us to reach our potential, leading to substantial benefits for employers.

Creating a Movement

Creating and maintaining the optimal work culture is an ongoing practice that requires leadership not only at the top but throughout an organization. Catalyzing a modern workplace norm with respect and dignity at its core – replacing old-fashioned “Command and Control” management – is both a daunting and inspiring goal.

The Great Work Cultures vision is to collectively achieve what we have not been able to do independently – to create deep, broad workplace culture change so that all workers can expect and experience a respectful work environment, and workplaces that do not aspire to achieve this goal are recognized as sub-standard and under-performing.

Big Tent Initiative

We have a big vision that will require sustained collective action – intentional organizing layered on top of, and in service to, all the stellar work that has already been done. If we share our success stories and knowledge, working together to amplify the breakthrough opportunities – and using Hollywood, academia and other key transmission channels, we can create a new norm where individuals and work cultures can expect more.

It is well past time for modern work practices to match the reality of the modern workforce. Together we will employ organizing principles to achieve work culture change that moves workplaces from Command and Control to Respect and Empower practices.

We are seeking ways for all of us to gather together to collaborate on creating deep, broad workplace culture change. Wouldn’t a new norm based upon respect and empowerment be a gift?


We are a round table of champions who embrace a vision of work cultures based on respect.

We welcome the participation of a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations within this big tent. To support our own respectful, empowering practices, we are testing Holacracy® for the Great Work Cultures engagement and governance structure.


An empowering structure for distributed leadership. A framework for streamlining and optimizing decision-making. A game-changing organizational paradigm for 21st-century dynamic businesses.

It’s time for a new way of doing business. One that honors multiple perspectives — without getting lost in a swamp of indecision. One that respects personal expertise and fuels innovation. One that invites engagement, sparks creativity, and leverages process for purpose-driven results.

The structure we are embracing is called Holacracy®. It is about Getting The Job Done!

Respectful and Empowering Organizational Structure

Holacracy® blends the best of both “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches while elegantly avoiding the pitfalls of both. It’s a framework for distributed authority that streamlines decision-making so teams can act swiftly and purposefully.

  • Distributed Authority: Holacracy® establishes a circle structure for broad input — without falling into the trap of muddled, crowd-sourced decision-making.
  • Harnessing Tensions: That gap between how things are and where we’d like to go? Other systems call those “problems.” Holacracy® recognizes the power of these tensions to catapult us to new successes. It welcomes them, addresses them head-on, and harnesses their power for driving positive change. Most importantly, it does all of this directly and swiftly so we can translate those tensions and their solutions into meaningful change.
  • Transparent Governance: Clear rules prevent egos — and politics — from dominating decisions. We stay focused on our purpose through explicit structures, dynamic steering, and a clear accountability structure.
  • Clear Roles + Responsibilities: Holacracy® bakes engagement into every step. By assigning clear roles, everyone enjoys genuine authority and claims real responsibility. The traditional manager roles no longer exist and Lead Links – their replacements – have specific accountabilities for prioritization, role assigning, and resource allocation.

Initial Circles and Lead Links for Great Work Cultures

Further information about Holacracy®

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Great Work Cultures accepts tax-deductible donations through our fiscal sponsor, Social Venture Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donate Online.