Unions in the 21st Century
by Matt Stoller, Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 06:18:30 PM EST
A friend of mine at the company tells me that every single line manager has had at least one conversation spurred by Mini-Microsoft. He tells me that Mini is so trusted that employees get talking points from the blog, and go and talk to their managers, and then those managers all push upwards with what they've learned. It's grassroots change at the corporate level, and is changing the way the company does business.
The comment area of Mini-Microsoft is full of comments by Microsofties, ex-Microsofties, investors, ex-investors, prospective employee, competitors, and managers. It's a fascinating model of worker organizing, journalism, or whatever else you want to call it. It's information about the internal life of a company that you simply cannot get through any other mechanism except an online community led by a powerful natural leader. It is in fact the first sketches of a genuine internet-based workers' movement forcing the hand of executives who are out of touch.
SEIU, pay attention.
UPDATE: A Microsoftie sends in this email:
The talking points connotation might not be the right one. What it is is that mini gives a vocabulary to frustrations most employees are already feeling. Because mini puts words to the ideas, the employee doesnt have to say, I think we hold too many meetings. Instead they can say, What do you think of this blog post?
The second thought would be that it isnt that upper management is out of touch. Upper management (Bill, Steve, Sinofsky) they get it. They talk about the same stuff Forbes and mini talk about. Its middle management that has isolated itself from the line employees and executives that dont get it. Or worse: they like the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy keeps them safe and employed. It is really difficult to get a middle manager fired because they can identify all kinds of ambiguous risks to the point where it isnt worth trying to make the case to repurpose them. Mini is giving us a toolkit of hyperlinks to be able to reverse the base assumption of we need to hire more people to fewer people, empowered people, is better: prove otherwise.