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Freedom at Work :


Worldblu | FREEDOM AT WORK: Growth & Resilience | 1

Freedom at Work: Creating the Optimal
Conditions for Success...................................... 3
Freedom Generates Superior Results.............. 8
Case Studies in Freedom-Centered
Growth and Resilience..................................... 11
Our Methods....................................................... 16
About WorldBlu................................................. 18

Copyright 2015 WorldBlu, LLC. All rights reserved.

DaVita Healthcare Partners, Denver, CO

Freedom at Work:
Creating the Optimal
Conditions for Success
In 1964, in a farsighted Harvard Business Review article entitled,
Democracy Is Inevitable, Warren Bennis and Philip Slater
argued that democracy would be the trend in both the workplace
and in the world because it is the most efficient social system
in times of unrelenting change.1 Bennis, a management expert
and business school professor, and Slater, a sociologist and
writer, foresaw the upheaval technological advances would bring
and the need for a system that was adaptive and that promoted
freedom of thought and action.
They were right.

At DreamHost we understand that the

future of business is less about pomp
and more about participation, less
about titles and more about meaning.
Working in a democratic environment
makes employees feel more connected
to the work that they do because they
feel like they can take ownership of
their individual tasks.They know if they
have a better way to do something, they
can do itinstead of mindlessly doing
something the way someone thinks it
should be done. The result is empowered
employees who are prepared to
tackle all sorts of challenges.
Simon Anderson, CEO, DreamHost

Today, we live in an era defined by unprecedented demands

for participation, collaboration, and inclusion. Technological
advances, generational shifts, and the global exchange of
cultural, social, and political ideologies are the cause, but also
the modern result. Valuing the potential of each individual is a
current in the ocean of history that has widened and deepened
with each passing centuryfrom revolutions that free entire
populations to protests for expanded rights to how we teach our
children to find joy and success through contribution. The ideals
of freedom and democracy are carrying us forward and lifting us
higher. Look around and you will see the momentum of freedom
and democracy in everything from education reform to urban
planning, from the millennial mindset to religion.
So what does that mean for usleaders of organizations
and teams, business owners, and entrepreneurs? Customers
expect us to listen to their valuable feedback as we develop
the next version of our products or services. Employees are
desperate to contribute their best ideas and greatest talents.
Communities want us to be part of the conversation about
development and growth. If we ignore their demands, well suffer
the consequences. To succeed in this new age, businesses
must be engaging, responsive, efficient, and adaptive. It can feel
exhilarating for some, but overwhelming for those unclear about
how to operate for success. Outdated management practices
developed during the Industrial Age only make meeting the

Philip Slater and Warren Bennis, Democracy Is Inevitable, Harvard Business Review,
42, 1964.
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new challenges harder. Instead, organizations, leaders, and

employees need to recognize the limitations of the past and
evolve into catalysts of freedom for the future.

Fear at Work Destroys Our Potential

The most powerful force in our

company is that every person who
walks through the door each day
employees, clients, members of
the communityreally wants the
company to live to see another day.
Employees tell us they love their
jobs. The community tells us what
a great impact were having. Clients
appreciate our responsive approach.
When you have that many people
pulling for you, great things happen.
Richard Sheridan, CEO,
Menlo Innovations

For nearly 20 years WorldBlu has learned from and worked with
leading brandssuch as Zappos, HCL Technologies, DaVita, New
Belgium Brewing, Menlo Innovations and the WD-40 Company
that have made freedom central to their organizations. What have
we learned? Why is freedom at work so invaluable? To understand
that, we must first look at the greatest limiter of freedom in the
Is fear rampant in your organization? You might not think so. Fear
sounds extreme. But look around and answer these questions

How important is politicking?

Who gets ahead, and why?

How many departments or divisions are run as fiefdoms?

What was the last great idea the company pursued that
didnt come from an executive?

What is your turnover rate?

We have seen these problems in most organizations. Why?

Many companies are trapped in what we call

the Fear at Work Cycle, driven by
a fear-based mindset, leadership style, and
organizational design.
In most organizations, fear runs throughout every level, from
the front lines to the C-suite. In an article in Harvard Business
Review, Roger Jones, an executive coach, described his findings
when he surveyed 116 executives, including CEOs, about their
fears2: Deep and uncontrolled private fears can spur defensive
behaviors that undermine how they and their colleagues set and
execute company strategy. . . . [The consequences] mentioned
most frequently were poor decision-making, focusing on survival
rather than growth, inducing bad behavior at the next level down,
and failing to act unless theres a crisis.
Fear at work is hugely detrimental to a companys ability to
achieve its full potential. Can we be engaged when we are afraid?
Are we innovative or creative when we are afraid? Do we make

Roger Jones, What CEOs are Afraid Of, Harvard Business Review (online),
February 24, 2015.
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Many years ago we set out to create

and sustain a culture that would
consistently promote meaningful
work life in the organization. We
respect each other as people
first, and strive to include the
consideration of the entire tribe
of WD-40 Company employees in
everything we do. We believe that by
practicing inclusiveness in decisionmaking and empowering individuals
to control as much of their work
methods and priorities as practical
and possible, we create a culture of
engaged and passionate employees.
Third party research has shown that
companies with strong cultures and
higher engagement levels enjoy
betters returns and stronger growth.
As a publicly traded company, strong
returns help ensure that we can
maintain our strategic course and
strength of culture, while fulfilling
our responsibilities to shareholders.

wise decisions and do we give new ideas a chance when we are

afraid? No. Unfortunately, most organizations dont even realize
they are trapped in fear. During the Industrial Age, the largely feardriven command-and-control, militaristic approach workedto a
degree. Today, most organizations continue to be structured for
that by-gone era, at great cost. They dont need bodies performing
simplified tasks repetitively. They dont benefit from the rubric,
Do what youre toldor else. Instead, they need the competitive
advantage found when human beings contribute creative ideas
for products and services and the processes for delivering them.
But the mindset, design, and leadership style inherent within these
organizations perpetuate a disengaged, fear-based workforce
unable to effectively respond to changing business conditions.
What is the solution? Freedom at work.

Freedom at Work Is the Path Out of Fear

In the Freedom at Work Model, we have codified how
leading organizations are creating optimal environments for
success. Through a freedom-centered mindset, leadership
style, and organizational design, they are achieving astounding



Garry Ridge, CEO, WD-40 Company

We believe the Freedom at Work Model is the new structure for
business in a Democratic Age because it is adaptable to any
organization, in any industry, of any size, anywhere in the world.
Through freedom-centered mindset, leadership, and design,
Freedom at Work impacts culture, operations, products and
services, and managementthe four core elements of every
organization. The effects are therefore far-reaching.

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Democracy creates a supportive

environment that promotes
creativity and innovation and gives
everyone a voice to birth ideas,
expand roles, hack productivity,
strengthen bonds, and launch
projects and initiatives that will
eventually grow respective teams
and, in turn, the company.
Vishen Lakhiani, Cofounder
and CEO, Mindvalley

A freedom-centered mindset is characterized by an

expansive and inclusive perspective rather than a controlling and fear-based point of view. What does this mean
for an organization? More exploration into new ideas and
methods, a greater sense of ownership and accountability
among employees, and a greater connection to the success of the organization over all.

Freedom-centered design leads to democratic organizational structure with less micro-management, greater
sharing of information, and greater decision-making
ability distributed throughout the organization. As a result,
freedom-centered organizations tend to be more agile
and productive, make wiser and more efficient use of their
resources, and innovate and execute with speed.

Organizations that promote freedom-centered leadership create cultures in which everybodynot just the
elite few or those with a certain titlehas the choice and
responsibility to be a leader, beginning with effectively
leading him or herself. They support individuals as they
develop into leaders who have self-worth, self-knowledge,
and can effectively self-govern. And when leadership is
less about control and more about encouraging greater
autonomy and collective wisdom, leaders become more
transparent, honest, and inclusive.

Freedom at Work is not a laissez-faire, free-for-all approach to

building an organization. It is a well-researched methodology for
capturing every ounce of potential for greatness.

To Measure Performance, You First

Have to Measure Freedom
The Freedom at Work Model is the result of decades of effort to
understand and assess freedom within organizations.
More than twenty years ago, we began an in-depth exploration
of the concepts of freedom and democracy and how they applied
in the business world. We would have given anything for an
existing model to use, but at the time, few organizations were
even interested in the topic. We had to literally travel the world to
identify those few that were trying to prove the economic value of
freedom by practicing it. It took us ten years of observation, study,
and analysis to develop a clear principle-based framework, the
WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy.
Harder still was identifying organizations that were truly
freedom-centric. No assessment existed to test for the

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The WorldBlu 10 Principles of

Organizational Democracy
Purpose + Vision
Dialogue + Listening
Fairness + Dignity
Individual + Collective
Reflection and Evaluation

presence of democratic principles such as choice, transparency,

decentralization, accountability, fairness, or integrity. So we built
our ownthe WorldBlu Freedom at Work Survey.

In the last nine years, more than 250,000

employees have taken our survey and
more than 130 companies have made it
onto the WorldBlu List of
Freedom-Centered Workplaces.
Once we found a way to assess freedom and democracy within a
workplace, we developed a deep database of information from a
strong and varied set of companies. Only then could we begin to
measure the outcomes these companies were achieving.
Now, we are leveraging the data we have gathered to present
proof that freedom and democracy in the workplace deliver
powerful, tangible financial results. We can move beyond
anecdotal evidence that Freedom at Work is the best path
to sustained growth and the most effective way to adapt to
global change. In the following pages, well share data on the
exceptional revenue growth and resilience of WorldBlu-certified,
freedom-centered companies.
It has been worth the wait.

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Freedom Generates
Superior Results
Freedom Creates the Conditions for Growth
Revenue growth is one of the greatest measures of a companys
health and sustainability. Consider the companies that have gone
public without ever having turned a profitall because of the
strength of their revenue growth. Amazon has a market capitalization
of about $172 billion, and has never turned a profit. Now, for the
majority of companies, eventually profit mattersa lot. But top-line
growth is proof that the company is doing some essential things
rightsuch as product innovation and customer engagement.
Dale Matheny, an expert in business analytics and sustainable
business practices and a professor at Principia College, helped
WorldBlu analyze the revenue data supplied by participating
WorldBlu-certified companies from around the world. These
companies represent a wide range of industries (see sidebar).
Some have a few employees; others have thousands. Some are
private, some are public, and some are employee-owned.
To judge the strength of the WorldBlu company results, we
compared their revenue growth to that of S&P 500 companies.
We looked at cumulative revenue growth over a three-year
period, 2010 to 2013 (similar to Inc.s approach when compiling
their lists of fastest growing companies). We felt cumulative
growth was more telling because companies were still emerging
from the Great Recession. The S&P 500 companies achieved a
15.36 percent average cumulative growth rate. The WorldBlu
companies in our study achieved a staggering growth rate of
103.16 percent.

MindValley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Freedom-centered organizations saw

an average cumulative revenue growth rate
over a three-year period that was 6.7 times
greater than that of the S&P 500 companies.
Revenue growth is only one piece of the organizational health
puzzle. Profit matters, margins matter, turnover matters, cost
control matters. But such strong revenue growth rates, particularly
given that the economy hadnt fully recovered from the recession
during our time frame, helps cement our trust in freedom as a
driver of success.
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Average Cumulative 3-Year Growth Rate (%)

Information About the Companies

in Our Revenue Growth Study
Company Age Range



Youngest Company:
Founded in 2010
Oldest Company:
Founded in 1953

S&P 500


Industries Represented
Financial Services
Food and Beverage
Household products
Professional services / consulting
Software and application
design and development
Warehousing and distribution

Staff were accepting of the

management decision to freeze
wages and freeze hiring for about
18 months during the worst of the
recession. We practice open-book
management. A worker-owner has
reason to trust that we wont have five
years of wage freezes with growing
profits. That would not stand. When
there is abundant information to all,
certain things are self-regulating.
Rodney North, Equal Exchange






Freedom Helps Companies Become Resilient

At WorldBlu, we have wondered about the impact of
organizational democracy on resiliencethe ability to survive and
thrive during times of change. Challenges in the economic and
business environmentlarge and smallwill never go away, and
in the past decade they have been greater than at any time since
the Great Depression. Because we began assessing companies
in 2007, we are able to examine how democratically designed
companies fared throughout the Great Recession.
Sixty-five organizations were certified as freedom-centered
workplaces in 2007, 2008, and 2009before or during the
official span of the Great Recession. (See sidebar for a full list
of companies.) According to the National Bureau of Economic
Research, the recession began in December 2007 and ended in
June 2009. The negative effects of the recession certainly extended
through 2011, though. So we tracked each organization to determine
if it was still in existence at the end of 2011. What did we find?

More than 95 percent of WorldBlu

companies survived the recession.
On its own, that seems like a promising number. When compared to
national averages for 2008 through 2011, it is even more impressive.
Only 4.6 percent of WorldBlu organizations ended operations
during a time when the average national establishment exit
rate was 10.33 percent.3

2012 (2014) Release of Establishment Characteristics Data Tables, Business

Dynamics Statistics, United States Census Bureau.
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The Companies in Our

Resilience Study
1-800-GOT JUNK?
AIESEC International
Axiom News
Beyond Borders
Chroma Technology
Collective Copies
Community Lend/
Dancing Deer
Baking Company
The Do LaB Event
Equal Exchange
Financial Business
Systems, Inc
GE Aviation, Durham
Engine Facility
Think Tank
Great Harvest
Bread Company
Guayaki Yerba Mate
Honest Tea
Innovation Partners
King Arthur Flour

La Siembra
Linden Lab
Menlo Innovations
New Belgium
Brewing Company
Orpheus Chamber
Roche Salon
The Russell Family
Seventh Generation
South Mountain
SRC Holdings
Srijan Technologies
Ternary Software
Union Cab
of Madison
Veldhoen +

Exit Rate During the Great Recession (%)






Generally, the establishment exit rate is within historical norms.

But the rate of entry (new establishments) fell below the rate of
exit in 2009 and didnt rise above it again until 2012. The number
of business establishments in the United States fell for three
straight years.
It was a bleak time for many businesses, and even those who
made it through were not unscathed. WorldBlu organizations,
just like others, had to make sacrifices in order to keep the lights
on during the toughest years. But strong freedom-centered
organizational design and culture produce smart long-term
decisions that help organizations survive when others dont.

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Case Studies in
Freedom-Driven Growth
and Resilience
At WorldBlu, we have seen time and again that freedom is
not something to be enforced with a one-size-fits-all practice
or set of rules. What works at a fair-trade co-op in the US is
not necessarily going to work at a software development firm
in Malaysia. Yet a foundational framework and a model for
organizational development can help us find a clear path forward.
We have proven that putting the WorldBlu 10 Principles of
Organizational Democracy and the Freedom at Work Model
into practice in ways that make sense for a particular organization
leads to greater success, by many measures. Two companies
that stand as testament are Menlo Innovations and DaVita.

Menlo Innovations: A Story of Resilience

Richard Sheridan doesnt pull punches when he talks about
Menlo Innovations struggles during the Great Recession. You
can be resilient, but if your customers arent, youre yelling into
a very empty pipeline. All the companies that had big projects
in play either stopped answering the phone or began saying, A
month from now. A month from now. That went on for almost
three years. Fear reigned supreme. Real fear, not manufactured
fear where the main question was: Are we going to survive?
Yet, they did survive.

Menlo Innovations, Ann Arbor, MI

A small custom software design firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan,

Menlo Innovations, which has made it onto the WorldBlu List of
Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces seven times, is known for
its unique approach to workan approach based on increasing
freedom and democracy at work and eliminating fear. Rich
has been invited to speak about their culture around the world,
including at the White House for the US president.
How did this approach help them endure when revenues
plummeted? A big component was their very personal approach to
work reduction. At Menlo, we have a shared pain, shared reward
pay system. When our core economic engine slows down, everyone
in the company begins making less money, including the founders.
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But the leaders at Menlo didnt take an across-the-board approach.

Instead, they asked a critical question: Who needs work more than
others? One team member, Dan, was close to retirement and said,
Send me home. He was financially secure, and he would use the
extra time to work on personal projects, like building a small airplane.
When they needed him, he would be there. Other employees said,
I need as much work as you can give me. Maybe they had young
families or spouses who had been laid off. We just kept gathering
the team together, listening to peoples stories, and paying attention,
Rich explained. Some could take one for the team for the greater
good, and some couldnt. We empathized with them. We became a
better teammore human.

The primary responsibility for

organizing work, producing quality
results, and ultimately the finished
product that we send to our
customers rests in the hands of each
worker. This includes production
workers and salespeople. It includes
shipping people and the CEO. We are
all expected to think independently
and cooperatively at the same time.
Paul Millman, President,
Chroma Technology Corp.

It would be wonderful if we could report that all Menlo employees

got the level of work they needed, but thats not reality. Menlo did
not have enough work to go around and had to shrink. Employees
who needed more steady income left. But the company helped
them find new jobs and told them that they were welcome to
come back when the economy and the business turned around.
And of course it did. In April 2011, most of those clients who
had put their projects on hold were ready to start-up again
immediately. The team stepped up, reformulated, and made an
amazing revenue year happen. Those who were available came
back on board. Employees offered to learn other parts of the
process to help out where the team was in needparticularly
in the intensive work that happens at the beginning of a design
project. New talent was showing up at the door. For Rich and the
other partners at Menlo, their agility was proof of their freedomcentered, rather than fear-based, culture and design.

People remember how you treat them

in tough times. Whether they stay or not,
they tell stories about you. And that pays
incredible dividends.
You have to get the people you need, but the bigger challenge
is getting their minds, their hearts, their spirits. If theyve left
those at home, youre not getting their best work, productivity, or
Despite the fear they felt at Menlo when the recession took hold,
they continued to lead and operate with a freedom-centered
mindset, design, and leadership style. (Every year, even during
the recession, Menlo Innovations has earned accolades, such
as Inc.s Most Audacious Companies, the Wall Street Journals
Top Small Workplaces, the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace
Flexibility, and many more.) The result was the engagement,
agility, and innovation that would ensure their continued growth
and success.
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In 2014, their 3-year cumulative growth rate was 69 percent. Not

bad for a company that was worried about surviving just a few
years earlier.

DaVita: From Decline to Growth

through Freedom

We embrace freedom and

democracy at DaVita HealthCare
Partners because its fundamental
to being a community first and
a company second. Central to
that philosophy is maintaining a
work environment that promotes
engagement at all levels. A
democratic workplace stresses
collaboration and a team-based
environment and ensures that
everyone has a voice, thereby
promoting full buy-in to a companys
new strategy and direction.
Kent Thiry, CEO, DaVita
HealthCare Partners

In 1999, a public company known as Total Renal Care (TRC) was

going bankrupt. As Kent Thiry, the man who would become CEO,
said, If a single bank had asked for a single dollar the company
might have gone under. About half of the executives had quit
or been fired. The company was being investigated by the SEC
and sued by shareholders. It was a brutally negative place.
People were angry and scared. KT, as he is called within the
organization, was hired to lead the company out of the chaos.
KTs first move with his new team was to focus on creating a
meaningful, special place for the approximately 9,000 people
who worked at TRC with the hope that they would offer their
patients better care and share their gifts with the wider world.
Maybe a third of the leaders thought it was a ridiculous idea
that the ability to make payroll would be special enough. Another
third thought it was a nice idea, but would fade away given the
problems the company faced. But the last third or so connected
with the new vision. In KTs words, they said, Ive always wanted
to work someplace where that was one of the core objectives,
to make it a meaningful place to work. Over time, KT explained,
he began to expose more and more people to the idea that
consistent dedication to creating a special place was not an idea
that was just going to fade away.
One of the early initiatives was developing shared core values.
Leaders spent more than eight months meeting with teammates
in small groups around the country, asking, What would you like
to have emphasized? What would you like to have honored?
After months of discussion, they held a democratic election
and teammates voted on the final set of six values (the seventh
core value of fun was voted in later). They also voted on a
new nameDaVita, which is Italian for he/she gives life. KT
had brought the mission, and the original visionTo Build the
Greatest Dialysis Company the World Has Ever Seenwhen
he joined the company. In 2010, DaVita voted again on their new
vision, and the teammates chose To Be the Greatest Healthcare
Community the World Has Ever Seen.
Today, DaVita prides itself on being a democratic community
first and a company seconddespite being a publicly-traded
company and the fact that more than 61,000 employees work at
2,000-plus treatment centers across the country. And through the
acquisition of HealthCare Partners, DaVita has expanded into
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After 29 years of operation

and 29 straight years of growth,
toowere confident that our
democratic design, specifically that
of an egalitarian worker-owned
and controlled co-operative, has
contributed to our consistent
growth. Most of our peers in
the natural food industry have
been crushed, been bought out,
or slowly stagnated because the
founders didnt have a way to
sustain the company for the long
haul. Being employee-owned
has helped us stay independent,
which, in turn, has contributed
to our success and longevity.
Rodney North, Spokesperson
& PR Manager, Equal Exchange

coordinated healthcare, beyond dialysis, proof that the company

is living out the expanded vision voted on in 2010. Teammates
begin their careers with the One for All training program, a
comprehensive look at the companys mission, core values, and
Trilogy of Care. DaVita Academy is a separate two-day summit
designed to inform new teammates about where they work and
what their company stands for. Leaders at the local level conduct
regular Town Hall meetings. Employees can call into the quarterly
Voice of the Village calls, and in the Q&A session at the end,
any teammate can ask any question and provide advice on any
aspect of the company. They dont hold back. KT, fondly referred
to as the mayor, as well as the executive team, responds honestly
and with transparency. DaVita is a place where people feel a
sense of citizenship, they care about each other without relaxing
performance standards, and they see themselves as stewards of
the culture and the company.
By focusing on what makes a community successfulhealth
and well-being of the people, environmental sustainability, and
economic vitalitythey have found the path to success for
the company. KT doesnt believe in the concept that achieving
capitalistic objectives and being a force for good requires a zero
sum trade-off. It would take pages to list the various ways in which
DaVita engages its employees, improves its patient care, and
does good in the world. Instead, well share a few of the results:

DaVita has made the WorldBlu List of Freedom-Centered

Companies every year since 2008.

They achieve the best patient outcomes, as measured

by two separate programs under the Center for Medicare
and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Five-Star Quality Rating System recognized DaVita
Kidney Care as highest among all major dialysis providers. DaVita outperformed the industry by nearly 138
percent. Fifty percent of four- and five-star centers are
DaVita centers.

The organization has been on Fortune Magazines

Worlds Most Admired Companies List since 2006.

DaVita has been named Denvers healthiest employer by

the Denver Business Journal.

The company has been recognized by the US

Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to reduce
its footprint through measures such as building the first
LEED-certified dialysis center, establishing annual environmental goals, investing in a new LEED Gold certified
headquarters, and researching methods for reducing
medical waste.

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We want a motivated and creative

workforce eager to serve the needs
of our customers. You dont get
that by keeping them in the dark
and telling them what to do. If
people are actively involved in the
decisions that affect them, you
will generally get better decisions.
And, even more importantly,
people will be more committed to
making those decisions work.
Henry Stewart, Founder
and CEO, Happy, Ltd.

This is an impressive list of accolades and achievements,

but what is equally impressive is the financial growth DaVita
achieved. When KT took over, TRC was trading at a bit over $7
per share. At the time of this writing, DaVitas share price is more
than $82 (after a stock split in 2013). In 1999, TRCs net revenue
was over $1.4 billion with a loss for the year of $147 million; in
2014, net revenue (for DaVita HealthCare Partners, Inc.) was
more than $12.7 billion and net income was more than $723
While DaVita is not perfect, the company continuously obtains
industry-leading clinical outcomes for patients; strives to create a
fulfilling, sustainable community for teammates; and sends ripples
of citizen leadershipall at the same time.

Freedom at Work Is Needed Now

We believe the time for greater freedom at work is now.
As the pull of freedom and democracy grows stronger, leaders
throughout organizations worldwide will find more support in
making the transition from a fear-based to a freedom-centered
workplace. Individuals increasingly do know their worth and
do want to engage in creative and meaningful ways in their
organizations. Each new generation that enters the workforce
is being taught that participation and collaboration are the best
ways to succeed. Leaders are beginning to understand that
when we stop trying to control other people, circumstances, and
environments, we gain greater influence, mutual understanding,
and a shared commitment to goals that are best for the
organization and all of its stakeholders. More and more people
believe that we are not meant to spend our days feeling fearful.
We are meant to live and work feeling fearless and free.
Freedom at Work is not a utopian conceptits a powerful
organizational model that impacts every facet of an organization,
proven to deliver powerful revenue growth and tremendous
resilience during tough economic times.
We encourage you to start your evolutionary process by applying
the Freedom at Work Model in your organization today.

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Our Methods
Assessing Freedom
Every year since 2007, we have used an employee survey
process called the Freedom at Work Survey to determine
the strength and depth of democratic principles in participating
organizations. The result is the WorldBlu List of FreedomCentered Workplaces (formerly the WorldBlu List of Most
Democratic Workplaces). But what are we assessing exactly?
More than 250,000 employees worldwide have taken the survey
to assess their organization on a fear-based to freedom-centered
continuum. The Freedom at Work Survey asks employees to
consider where, when, and how ten foundational democratic
principlesthe WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational
Democracyshow up in their companys employees behavior,
leadership, and overall systems and processes. In most
companies, 70 percent of employees must complete the survey for
the company to be considered for the list. In very large companies,
we survey a random sample of a specific number of employees
across the organization, and they must all complete the survey for
the company to be considered. Organizations that score a 3.5 (out
of 5) or higher earn the WorldBlu certification designation.

Assessing Growth
The revenue growth of WorldBlu companies is based on
reported data from 19 companies that self-selected from the 120
companies that qualified for the study. Due to the availability of
data, revenue growth for most of the nineteen companies was
measured as
DreamHost, Los Angeles, CA

(Revenue end of 2013 Revenue end of 2010) / (Revenue end of 2010)

However, the resulting growth rate was conservative because

we measured revenue for six of the twenty companies over
only a two-year period (20102012 or 20112013) rather than a
three-year period; certain years were excluded because either
the companies did not report revenue data for those years or
because the revenues were very low (during start-up years) and
the high year-over-year growth rates would have skewed the
overall average.
Worldblu | FREEDOM AT WORK: Growth & Resilience | 16

We tested our 103.16% revenue growth rate and found that it was
statistically higher than the S&P 500 three-year cumulative growth
rate, as reported by Standard & Poors:
1. Sample size (N) = 19; sample mean = 103.16%; sample
standard deviation (s) = 83.72
2. Our hypothesis was: Ho: 0 <=15.36 with alternate H1:

3. At a 99% significance level or p=.01 we get z(test) =

t.inv(.99,18)=2.55 std. deviations as our rejection region.
4. Z(sample) = (103.16-15.36) / ( 83.72 / sqrt(19)) =
87.8/19.2 = 4.57 std. deviations

5. Since 4.57 > 2.55 we can reject Ho and conclude that

freedom-centered companies have a statistically higher
cumulative revenue growth than the corresponding threeyear S&P cumulative revenue growth.
For reasons of privacy (many of the nineteen companies are
privately held), we are not identifying the companies that
participated in the revenue growth analysis, other than those
companies that participated in interviews.

Assessing Resilience
As described in the text, we reviewed the survival of 65 WorldBlu
companies that were certified in 2007, 2008, and 2009. We used
the following information as a basis for our calculations:

Three failed financially and closed their doors in the time

frame established (recession period through 2011).

One was still in operation in December 2012, but closed

at some point afterward. It was not included as a closed
company for our calculations.

Two were sold during the established time frame, but

maintained operations, so were not counted as closings.

One had been sold prior to the recession and was further
integrated into the purchasing company during the established time frame, but did not cease operations.

When looking at the national establishment exit rate, it is helpful

to note that an establishment is defined by the U.S. Census
Bureau as a business or industrial unit ata single locationthat
distributes goods or performs services. A company or firm may
consist of one or more establishments, but most companies or
firms are a single establishment.

Worldblu | FREEDOM AT WORK: Growth & Resilience | 17

About WorldBlu
WorldBlus purpose is to develop world-class freedom-centered
(rather than fear-based) organizations and leaders. Our vision is
to see one billion people leading and working in freedom.
Since 1997, we have been studying and assessing the most
freedom-centered leaders and freedom-centered workplaces
around the world. After a decade of research on organizational
development and democratic management, we created the
WorldBlu Freedom at Work Assessment. We published the
first WorldBlu List of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces in
2007. As of 2015, we have highlighted more than 135 companies
around the globe that range in size from 5 to 61,000 employees
and represent every industry.
Today, we work toward our purpose and vision by offering
consulting and coaching services, boot camps, assessments,
and certificationssuch as our Freedom-Centered Leader
programto help individuals and organizations live in and spread
freedom around the world.

For more information, please contact us at

Freedom at Work: Growth & Resilience

Copyright 2015 WorldBlu, LLC. All rights reserved.