One of the most persistent ideas I’ve heard in my decades in IT is that we geeks want democracy at work. Surprisingly, I’ve heard it from managers and executives as often as I have from front-line geeks.

But when you scratch the surface, you see that we don’t really want democracy at all. We want a lot of other things related to what we value and how we’d like our workplaces to operate. Somehow this gets shorthanded to “We want democracy,” but what we really want are much more specific things:

  • We want our managers to listen to us.
  • We want to feel that we have a chance to influence the decisions that affect us.
  • We want to be able to prevent our managers from making dumb decisions.
  • We want some type of recourse when our managers make those dumb decisions.
  • We want to dictate our own deliverables and deadlines.
  • We want more autonomy in setting our own priorities and approach to meeting goals.

The question we have to ask is, “Would a truly democratic workplace provide these things?” The answer requires a clear understanding of what democracy is and how it would look at work.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here