This is an addendum article to the core of the book and article series on, The Great Workplace 2.0, to define the term “Participant”:
In The Great Workplace 2.0, we use a term not typically used within “Legacy” (Old Model) organizations. The term is “Participant”. It is purposefully used to define the change in attitude (Status) toward those people and organizations that “participate” in an organization’s success, or failure.
The underlying question in this definition is: “How does the organization treat (view, use, include) vendors, contractors and potential employees, compared to how they treat customers?” The assumption is that a customer is treated VERY well as the customer defines the revenue and future for the organization.
Ever walk into a company for a sales appointment (or any appointment) and been treated like the proverbial red-hair stepchild by the company greeter or another employee (Always)? You instantly felt like you are not wanted, regardless of what you could do for the organization. You KNEW you were excluded. Everyone there wore a Blue Jersey and yours was Yellow, and tattered.
The foundation of The Great Workplace is qualitatively one of Inclusion. Legacy organizations typically practice true Inclusion only among defined internal Groups or around the Status of individuals. “Outsiders” are, well, outsiders.
The Great Workplace 2.0 has redefined the perceived status of the people and organizations that help move it forward with a more inclusive attitude (Environment) and level of appreciation. They have changed the way they describe, refer to and treat those who touch the organization (“Stakeholders”, Employees, Vendors, Board, Applicants, Contractors, Freelancers, Potential Vendors, Customers and Surrounding Community) and redefined their status to be “Participants”.
“Participant” purposefully elevates all people, organizations and community that touch the organization to jersey-wearing players, and as such bestows a level of accountability and ownership to them to coincide with their inclusion. If you wear the jersey, if you touch the ball or protect it, you have a sense of accountability. You are in the game and can influence the score. In legacy organizations, you knew your status; inside or outside, and the organization let you know it with certainty. Sometimes with impunity. Sometimes at a minimal level, until your “Touch” was no longer needed. As a matter of fact, in legacy organizations, the internal folks were (are) trained and encouraged to treat outsiders as outsiders. Can’t get too close to a vendor or outsider.
The Great Workplace 2.0 recognizes that Participants bring special, valuable and unique knowledge to the game, and the game is all about special knowledge or the use of general knowledge. The Great Workplace 2.0 recognizes that in the business world of today, “Partners” and “Collaborators” in many ways know more about the market the organization is part of than either the organization itself, or groups within the organization.
It recognizes that any Participant could hold knowledge that the organization needs and instead of simply bidding for and buying it, The Great Workplace 2.0 encompasses that value by inclusion. Inclusion maintains dialogue and dialogue increases networking, idea exchange and innovation.
In a “Legacy” workplace “Inside” is just that: inside and therefore deemed valuable. The concept of an “Outsider” is fostered to validate or enhance the status of the Insiders and to create a sense of value to those residing inside.
Outsiders, regardless of their potential contribution to the success of the organization, have a built-in “want” of value. They can never be quite what an insider is. They are the audience and rarely a person allowed to wear the jersey. They are constantly on “probation” and their status is only as good as the mood of the contact.
“Inside Value” has been created in many ways due to the lack of a greater Purpose attached to the work of ANY person or group having influence with the organization.
Legacy workplaces have been particularly adept at creating an “Us versus Them” environment. It can be seen and felt by any outsider, but especially by those who have become new Insiders. They instantly feel a value they have not earned, but have had bestowed upon them due to their change in status. A person who was a vendor, who then becomes an employee, suddenly becomes a trusted “Insider” member. Moments before, that same person was left to wait one hour in the lobby even though they were on time for their appointment.
The Great Workplace 2.0 has simply grown up to maturity faster than the Legacy workplace. Their environment, training, leadership and culture is geared toward treating all people who touch the workplace as valued members of the potential success of that organization, right down to the person who answers the phone and greets visitors. After all, a true measure of the culture of an organization and the measure of their future success is whether the organization treats potential Participants as well as they treat customers, or even better.
Respectfully submitted, Robert Schepens