Dec 192007

On December 16, 2007 USA Today published an article on this subject:

“India is the world’s largest democracy, so it seems fitting that the New Delhi-based information technology services giant HCL Technologies is attempting what may be the most ambitious effort yet at installing a workplace democracy. That may sound impossible, but so did running nations as democracies in past centuries.

CEO Vineet Nayar, 45, has written a case study about HCL’s experiment for the Harvard Business School. He spoke to USA TODAY corporate management reporter Del Jones about his bold experiment and why he believes that in the future, democratic companies will outperform the command-and-control dictatorships that have persisted since the industrial revolution…..”

I really enjoyed reading the excerpts of the interview. I have been a big proponent of “consensus-driven decision making” – and well, being Indian in origin – still feel dreaded to use the word ‘democracy’ and Indian democracy as an example. I like to apologize to the readers upfront – if you feel that I am arguing anything about the democracy in India. I think India like any other democratic country has its own share of bureaucracy and corruption. And so, the point I am trying to make here is about the mutual respect, accountability and responsibility in a corporate environment – and how that lacks in most nation’s democracy – and the political leaders.

I may not be too keen to vote my boss out of his office. However, I certainly like to see that the management and the leadership of a company can be given a reality check – in case they don’t recognize the real problem a strategic project or customer account may be in.

I think management by consensus is more palatable than by democracy. Consensus can grow organically inside the company and include every team members – they can collaborate and genrate the team spirit for the name of teamwork – and deliver solutions effectively. I think ‘command and control’ approach will stick around up to certain extent to deliver better results in our workplace.

A leader never commands. He or she influences others. I think if we have real leaders on the helm, and if we can hone leadership skills of the employees we have – the shackles of ‘command and control’ will be non-existent real soon. I submit that it is possible to deliver business results using consensus driven collaboration, and it requires certain specific governing principles that everyone must follow – doesn’t matter what we do for the company.

I think some of my thoughts do resonate with this article (USA Today, 12/16/2007). I would really appreciate your thoughts, critiques, and suggestions.

Happy Holidays!

– Tushar K. Hazra


Tushar K. Hazra

Dr. Tushar K. Hazra is a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium's Business & Enterprise Architecture practice. Dr. Hazra focuses on component-based enterprise application development, integration, and deployment.


  4 Responses to “Management by democracy: A CEO’s bold experiment”

  1. Nice!

    But, I cannot see how the idea of bottom line thinking and democratic organization can mix together. If the idea is just Voice of Employee (VoE) then it’s not a big deal.

    I haven’t read the article but if it’s the X-Team concept then this blog post should be about Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman and not Mr. Nayar.

  2. avatar

    Sorry for the confusion!
    I wanted to hear all of your views on “Management by democracy” – not so much to like my views or that of any of the authors of the article. I do like the Q & A with Vineet Nayar.
    I am working on an e-mail advisor – and will hope to clarify my points there. Mukul, thank you for your thoughts.
    Happy Holidays!!

  3. There at least one good precedent for this. In the UK, the John Lewis Partnership retail group is literally owned by its staff. This season they outperformed most of the other big chains by a long way, so this is not just vague idealism.

    See for more information

  4. That is not the only example. In 2001 there was a book publiced about St Luke’s. An example out of the publicing world where they did the same.
    It’s a nice book that reads like a novel.

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