The final step towards increased employee engagement is EMPOWERMENT

This is a draft excerpt from the upcoming book, What’s Your Green Goldfish? Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Create Employee Loyalty and Reinforce Culture:


whats your green goldfish book cover1st inch – Onboarding

2nd inch – Food & Beverage Shelter / SpaceTransparency / Openness

3rd inch – WellnessTime AwayModern Family


4th inch – Recognition

5th inch – Team Building

6th inch – Flexibility


7th inch – Training & Development, Retirement

8th inchPay it Forward

The ninth and final INCH

The last inch on the 9 INCH journey to the heart of your employees is via Empowerment.

Image credit: ceotrackblog

Image credit: ceotrackblog

Leadership is about inspiring others. Enabling team members to do their absolute best to work towards a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. In one word… EMPOWERMENT. Give people the direction, support them with resources and then getting the hell out of the way.

Maybe one of the strongest examples of empowerment is Nordstrom (#34). Their entire mission and employee handbook fits on the back of a business card.

Nordstrom has only one goal . . . ‘To provide outstanding customer service.” They only have one rule . . . “Use good judgment in all situations.”

It’s time for a change

Command and Control or Carrot and Stick thinking is outdated. People do not enjoy or appreciate being controlled or coerced.

The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people.” (Source: Netflix, Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture)

According to Ken and Scott Blanchard,

We are finding that giving people a chance to succeed in their job and setting them free to a certain degree is the key to motivation, as opposed to trying to direct and control people’s energy. It’s really about letting go and connecting people to their work–and each other–rather than channeling, organizing, orchestrating, and focusing behavior.” (Source: Fast Company)

Let’s look at a Baker’s Dozen of companies that go the extra mile to empower team members:

Empowerment is the Opposite of Organization

wl gore green goldfish

W.L Gore (#46) was founded by Wilbert Lee Gore in 1958. A 16 year veteran at DuPont, Bill envisioned a different type of organization. His would be non-hierarchal, setting an environment where leader would emerge based on the merit of their ideas.

[He] wanted a company where employees’ spirit grew based on what they accomplished, not which corporate scrimmage they had won—where more time was spent generating ideas than generating ways to cover one’s backside. So he decided to create a “non-organization” approach for his new company that would inspire creativity in its employees.” (Source: Jeanne Bliss)

Life Coaches and Dream Managers

zappos life coach green goldfish #72

Zappos (#72) provides a life coach for employees. (Source: YouTube)

Infusionsoft (#455) provides employees with the services of a “Dream Manager.” The move was inspired by Matthew Kelly’s book, The Dream Manager and a core value at Infusionsoft. The sales and marketing automation provider believes in people and their dreams. The manager works to help team members set, pursue and become accountable for achieving their goals and dreams. (Source: Infusionsoft)

The commercial developer Brasfield & Gorrie (#239) created a new position, Director of Career Development. The move is paying dividends. The company maps out each employee’s career path, and indicates what he or she will have to do to get there. “Every employee’s career path is consistent with what we’re looking for from our strategic plan five to 10 years out. We’re not just making something up.” Spelling out every employee’s career path takes time and part of that time is spent making sure upper management communicates the results with individual employees. (Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Supporting Personal Goals

Associates at Pepsico (#537) include a personal goal in their performance development review process and are asked to deliver against this goal, just like any other goal, to ensure a work-life balance. (Source:

Following the opportunity to take time to evaluate where the associate is now, and where he or she wants to be, each team member at Falgren Mortine (#725) then meets with his or her supervisor for a conversation; at least one hour devoted to focusing on the individual’s needs and goals, and a chance to formally discuss ways he or she can grow and learn in the development of his or her career. (Source: PR News Online)

A Democracy of Good Ideas where Titles Need not Apply

This leading developer empowers everyone to make their mark on the company and culture. According to Mike Derheim, CEO at The Nerdery (#304), “We want them to aspire to be a co-president. The late great Luke Bucklin was the only president we’ll ever have, and co-president was what he called us — all of us — before we lost him.” In one of Luke’s last all-staff e-mails he wrote: “Put your business card on the desk in front of you. Look at it. … This card does not define you. You are a Co-President. You are bigger than your defined role. … Play your part — transcend your job title, be a hero.” (Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal) [Note: see video at bottom of post]

Submitted by Matthew DeGeronimo of Smith Floyd (#771). In Matt’s words,

I run a Mergers & Acquisitions company in Honolulu, and had some thoughts for your book. There is one thing we do that might not be commonplace. We allow employees to pick their own title. Creative titles encouraged – of course, I retain veto power.” (Source: SmithFloyd)

The independent marketing agency WONGDOODY (#215) is united by the “Democracy of Good Ideas” principle. Any staffer could come up with the next big idea.  It encourages participation and rewards keen judgment. (Source: Los Angeles Business Journal)

Purposefully Losing Control

molnlycke healthcare green goldfish #61

One of Europe’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of single-use medical products, Molnlycke Health Care (#61) allowed production teams to decide how to meet their goals. With the responsibility for quality products moved to individuals on those teams, nearly 70 percent of the company’s new products launch on time, compared with just 15 percent previously. As a result, the company will have quadrupled its shareholder value in only five years. (Source: InnoSupport)

Passions and the Creative Muse

Fast Horse (#297) is an innovative, integrated agency offering a full range of traditional and non-traditional marketing services. Fast Horse employees enjoy little extras like a $500 “Muse It or Lose It”, a stipend to help underwrite creative endeavors away from the office.

Much of the credit for our amazing workplace at Weber Shandwick Minneapolis (#310) goes to our Employee Action Group (EAG). Each month, employees enjoy an EAG-sponsored event to celebrate our successes, encourage teamwork or to just have fun. The highlight events include our annual “Shankwick” golf outing and our own version of “The Amazing Race,” appropriately renamed “The Shanmazing Race.” Our newest EAG initiative is our “No Boundaries” program. This program was designed to give our employees a chance to explore a personal passion, which may include attending “The Burning Man” event in San Francisco to spark creativity, or traveling to Honduras to work for Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization devoted to distributing shoes and clothing to victims of abject suffering. The company provides the employees with five extra vacation days and $1,000 to pursue the passion. (Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Making Time for Empowerment

15% time

3M (#53) launched the 15 percent program in 1948. Employees were given 15% of their time to work on personal project of their choosing. If it seems radical now, imagine how it played as post-war America was suiting up and going to the office, with rigid hierarchies and increasingly defined work and home roles. But it was also a logical next step. Forty plus years in the red taught 3M a key lesson: Innovate or Die, an ethos the company has carried dutifully into the 21st century.

15 percent time is extended to everyone. Who knows who’ll create the next Post-It Note (a 15% time innovation)?

It’s one of the things that sets 3M apart as an innovative company, by sticking to that culture of giving every one of our employees the ability to follow their instincts to take advantage of opportunities for the company,” says Technical Director Kurt Beinlich, who tries to get most of his 70-person lab team to participate. (Source: FastDesignCo.)

Azavea (#187), a maker of mapping software, lets employees spend up to 10 percent of their time on research projects of their own devising. (Source:


Google (#2) allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs (such as Gmail) started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program. (Source: Jonathan Strickland in ‘HowStuffWorks: How the Googleplex Works’)

Hack Days and the Quest for Improvement

Conductor, Inc. (#513) holds an annual, companywide Hack Day, where all Conductors are invited to self-organize into teams and spend a day developing an idea that makes the product, office, or company better. (Source:

Siemens (#606) operates an employee suggestion program that encourages employees to share their feedback — the ideas that lead to savings or new revenues are evaluated for their impact and can lead to financial bonus payments ranging up to $100,000.

Employees at McMurry (#706) can submit their innovative “WOW Project” ideas through the company’s internal computer network. Toward the end of the year, president and CEO Chris McMurry and several senior managers consider each of the hundreds of pitches that come in and award up to $10,000 for the best ideas. “Our business, and every business, needs to innovate constantly if it seeks an enduring future,” McMurry says, explaining why the program got started. One winning pitch came from a group of three employees who pored over U.S. Post Office regulations and came up with a way for McMurry to re-sequence how it distributes mail on behalf of its clients, saving those clients millions of dollars.

Encouraging its staff of more than 170 people to dream up creative business ideas and solutions has cemented innovation into our culture,” McMurry says. “It’s now part of what everyone does. It has put all my colleagues in a continuous improvement mode. There literally isn’t a week that goes by where someone doesn’t implement a better way of doing something.”

McMurry says “WOW Projects” improve a swath of company functions, from billing accuracy to workflow to shipping procedures. All have improved the company’s bottom line. (Source:

R&D Thursday’s

Nearly every employee at Spider Strategies (#268) works from home every day.  Staffers set their hours–which suits those who prefer to work at night. There are rarely meetings–three or four a year. Every Thursday is set aside for R&D, so staffers can explore the latest in technology. And vacation is unlimited. (Source: Washingtonian Magazine)

The Ability to Correct Mistakes

Starbucks (#520) will fix your drink if it’s wrong, every time – no charge. Starbucks employees are empowered to provide drinks on the house for repeat customers when they are having a bad day, out of money or “just because”. Crewmembers spend a day during their first week of training simply going out into the lobby and greeting customers. The goal is not just to ask them what they need or if they can provide a refill, but to actually engage in conversation and help the person become more comfortable while waiting or relaxing. Crewmembers are empowered to provide “service recovery certificates” for a free “anything” (even a quad-venti 5 pump caramel macchiato, light whip, hold the foam) when service fails to meet the customer’s expectations. (Source: Jordan Belcher)

Tellers at Fairwinds Credit Union (#522) are empowered to provide immediate service recovery of up to $100 per incident w/o seeking management approval. This can be used to buy a customer lunch, purchase flowers, send a special treat or for anything else the rep decides to help recover from a bad service experience. (Source: Fairwinds)

Exhibitions and Science Fairs

Practice Plan (#377), which provides business support services to the dental sector, gets the creative juices flowing among its workforce of 74 people by giving in-house exhibition space for original artwork every two months. Darren Marks used his turn to show a series of nine images called Words To Live Your Life By, based on song lyrics. Colleagues shared drinks and nibbles at the opening of his Wall 9 exhibition.

Bazaarvoice (#409) makes sure it solicits the views of its own people, too, and holds a science fair to showcase bright ideas. (Source: The Sunday Times)

Once a year, about 200 employees from dozens of divisions at 3M (#857) make cardboard posters describing their 15 percent time project as if they were presenting volcano models at a middle school science fair. They stand up their poster, then hang out next to it, awaiting feedback, suggestions, and potential co-collaborators. Wayne Maurer is an R&D manager in 3M’s abrasives division and calls it a chance for people to unhinge their “inner geek.” He elaborates: “For technical people, it’s the most passionate and engaged event we have at 3M.” (Source: FastDesignCo.)

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a music great video by the staff at The Nerdery. It’s their version of the Jimmy Fallon, Roots, Carly Rae Jepsen collaboration on “Call Me Maybe.” Their version is called, “Co-Pres Maybe”:


All of the examples in this post were taken from the  Green Goldfish Project. The Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Green goldfish are the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, reinforce culture, increase retention and drive positive WoM. The book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on March 29, 2013.

Transparency and Openness are key drivers of Employee Engagement

This is a draft excerpt from the upcoming book, What’s Your Green Goldfish? Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Create Employee Loyalty and Reinforce Culture

1st inch – Onboarding

2nd inch – Food & Beverage, Shelter / Space

The second INCH (cont’d)

The second inch on the 9 INCH journey to the heart of your employees involves Transparency and Openness.

I recently watched a video from Dave Hitz of NetApp on what it takes to become a great workplace. He broke down 3 ways to achieve greatness: 1. Like the people you work with, 2. Do work that is meaningful and 3. Trust the management. Keying on #3, it begs the question, “How do you build trust?” Let’s look for guidance from India’s HCL Technologies and Brazil’s Semco.

Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies touched on Trust in his bestselling book, Employees First, Customers Second. He outlines four ways that “Transparency builds Trust”:

  1. Employees First, Customer Second BookTransparency ensures that every stakeholder knows the company’s vision and understand how their contribution assist the organization in achieving its goals. Working in a environment without transparency is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like.
  2. It ensures that every stakeholder has a deep personal commitment to the aims of the organization.
  3. Gen Y members expect transparency is a given. They post their life stories in public domains; they expect nothing less in their workplaces.
  4. In a knowledge economy, we want customers to be transparent with us, to share their ideas, their vision and their strategies for solving core problems. Why would customers be transparent with us if we don’t trust employees enough to be transparent with them.

The Theory of the Amsterdam Window

amsterdam window theory

Vineet uses an analogy in his book of the Amsterdam Window. Having previously lived on the Herengracht (“Gentleman’s Canal”) in Amsterdam, I can attest that the windows are immense. They are a throwback to the modest Calvinist period when subtle expressions of wealth, such as being able to afford to pay the highest window tax, were favored by the rich. In the words of writer Joanna Tweedy, “Today, the centuries-old glass, beautifully imperfect, frames the olive-green waters outside and lets natural light, and the eyes of curious tourists, pour in.”

While visiting Amsterdam, Vineet asked his friend, “Why so large?” The friend mentioned all the obvious reasons like letting in light and enjoying the view of the canal, but then offered a much more interesting answer… “It keeps the house clean.” It turns out that the bigger your windows, the more glass you have, the more visible your dirt will be – to you and to everyone who visits or passes by. In Vineet’s words,

If you can see the dirt, you will be much more likely to get rid of it.  A transparent house has a dramatic effect on the culture inside.

Opening the Window of Information at HCL

HCL TechHCL (#809) put together an online forum for employees called U&I. Employees could ask any question to the senior team at HCL Technologies. It was an open site where everyone could see the question, the questioner, and the answer. Employees responded favorably as noted by this comment,

This is the biggest change we have seen at HCL in years. Now we have a management team that is willing to acknowledge the dirt.”

Transparency at Grupo Semco

Brazil’s Semco is a great example of a democratic open environment with minimal hierarchy. The group of companies is headed by Ricardo Semler. According to British management guru Charles Handy, “The way he works — letting his employees choose what they do, where and when they do it, and even how they get paid — is too upside-down for most managers.

The company operates as an open book. In Semler’s words,

ricardo semler semcoSemco has no official structure. It has no organizational chart. There’s no business plan or company strategy, no two-year or five-year plan, no goal or mission statement, no long-term budget. The company often does not have a fixed CEO. There are no vice presidents or chief officers for information technology or operations. There are no standards or practices. There’s no human resources department. There are no career plans, no job descriptions or employee contracts. No one approves reports or expense accounts. Supervision or monitoring of workers is rare indeed… Most important, success is not measured only in profit and growth.”

Semco has a whole school of green goldfish. Here are some examples:

  • All employees, including union members, have full access to all financials (#341). Access is one thing, understanding is another. To educate its employees, Semco has even created cartoons to help explain the financial data.
  • Up and Down Pay (#785). Semco’s employees going through a phase in which they would rather work less and lower their pay accordingly, the company does its best to adapt.
  • Employees at Semco dictate their own salary (#340). Twice a year they are given the chance to set their compensation structure.
  • Semco’s employees have the flexibility to set their own hours (#834).
  • Semco believes that it is important to meet people interested in working with it, even if this interest is not immediate or there are no current opportunities. This led them to create the program – Date Semco (#195). Good for prospective employees and current ones. Each get to determine whether the fit is right.
  • Employees are not allowed to sit in the same place two days in a row (#462). This encourages collaboration and eliminates the need for managers to track time spent by employees at their desk.

Let’s look at another Baker’s Dozen of companies that go the extra mile to be open and transparent.

Open by Design

wl gore green goldfish

A visionary corporation, W.L. Gore (#46) is built from a blueprint that its founder refers to as a “lattice” (as opposed to a “ladder”). There is no visible hierarchy at Gore — and no job titles. In fact, there are no bosses. Instead, there are leaders who achieve their positions by gaining followers. Business goals are established by consensus. Gore’s internal “structure” was put into place in 1958 by cofounder Bill Gore, an ex-DuPont exec who believed that leaders should be chosen by the people who follow them. (Source: Fast Company)

If you join Marina Maher Communications (#749), don’t expect a title on your business card. “In our 28-and-a-half years, we’ve never put titles on business cards,” said Maree Prendergast, managing director-human resources and talent. “We always thought that limits people.” In fact, its philosophy is “good ideas come from everywhere,” said Marina Maher, founder of the PR agency. (Source:

atlassian green goldfish

Rule #1 of 5 Core Values: Open Company, No BullshitAtlassian (#47) embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. “We are not afraid of being honest with ourselves, our staff and our customers.” (Source:

Feedback Plus (#59) has an open ledger policy for employees. They can read the company’s financial statements any time they wish. Their compensation is based upon their work team’s and company’s performance vs. the annual goals and action plans they’ve collectively developed. Of course it may not be feasible for every company to have an open ledger policy, but it is important that, whatever the size of the organization, each employee knows where they are going and how they’re supposed to get there. (Source:

Employees at Catalyst Studios (#288) say Founder Jason Rysavy’s focus on finding like-minded colleagues and challenging work is what makes the firm a fun place to work. “My job and the job of the leadership here is to make sure the projects we’re bringing in are satisfying for people to work on.” The firm looks for challenging, unique projects in need of solutions, Rysavy said. “We tend to get these bastard-child projects that no one knows how to deal with, and we help figure it out.” Over time, the firm has learned to turn down work that won’t excite the agency’s passionate problem-solvers. “The more you say no to the stuff that is clearly not a good fit for the people we have, the more the good stuff comes along,” Rysavy said. “We made a lot of money early on, but we did a lot of stuff that didn’t get us anywhere.” Delivering a product that clients and users can enjoy and that was satisfying to build is a reward beyond the “smoke and mirrors” that other agencies use to keep their employees happy, Creative Director Bryce Howitson said. (Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Talent Plus + (#799) holds monthly business update meetings. Management shares financials with all employees in the spirit of transparency.

“Customer First News,” an audio webcast that provides Symantec (#806) employees with updates on their NPS performance, actions being taken to address performance gaps and business results achieved. Symantec engages employees across the business in delivering this message, showing that customer experience is owned by every employee. (Source:

An Open Door

At Flour Bakery + Cafe (#136), none of the bakery manager offices have doors, and all have anonymous suggestion boxes. “We try to create all sorts of ways to get feedback from the staff,’’ says General Manager Aaron Constable. (Source:

Rand Corporation (#208) offers an open door policy at all levels of the organization. Anyone can make an appointment to meet with the CEO, Executive VP or any of the other VP staff.  The company leadership host small group lunch meetings with open Q&A as well as coffee get togethers for office quadrants for open Q&A. (Source: Los Angeles Business Journal)

Openness One Step at a Time

AnswerLab’s (#510) CEO schedules Walk & Talks with every employee. These one-on-one check-ins provide employees with an individual opportunity to share any concerns or brilliant ideas they have with the CEO directly. Why it’s great: Combining wellness with one-on-ones helps achieve two important objectives simultaneously. Meeting outside the office and getting physical helps eliminate the nerves and intimidation employees might normally experience when connecting with higher-ups. (Source:

Team One (#748) has a “management by walking” practice and team camaraderie help maintain the culture at the communications company. (Source:

Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company (#248) took purposeful steps to being visible and promotion good health at Campbell’s. Ten thousand steps per day to be exact in order to stay connected to employees. (Source: HBR)

Everyone at the Max Borges Agency (#714) has the ability to discuss anything with anyone at the agency, where its “do not knock” policy is taken seriously. Taking that one step further, the company recently sponsored a four week in-office communications course that was taught during regular business hours. It was based on a book titled “People Styles At Work,” and its purpose was to enhance everyone’s ability to effectively communicate with co-workers, clients and family. (Source: PR News Online)

Overtime Extra

The DRP Group (#433) recognizes long hours working on videos, events, print and digital productions. “If the client pays for overtime, the team member will get 50% of what is charged,” it has ruled, allowing some staff to make 30% extra. (Source: The Sunday Times)

Open and Secure

National Instruments (#763) puts their employees first. When other employers lay off in droves, NI hangs on, relying on cash they have consistently put away for the inevitable economic recession.” – National Instruments Digital Hardware Engineer. (Source: Glassdoor)

David Martin Agency (#298) “We are different from other companies in our industry as we are salaried. By removing the commission-based compensation usually found in this industry, it allows all of us to enjoy the success of the individual performances. We celebrate our successes by announcing company-wide. We share financial bonuses across all employees. Our philosophy is that sharing successes make our jobs even better!” (Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Standing Up for Employees

ing direct fires bad customers

Bad customers beware. ING Direct (#38) stands up to protect their employees. The bank has an operating strategy based on a strong, effective culture is selective of prospective customers. It also requires the periodic “firing” of customers, as pointed out in our examples of companies like ING Direct, where thousands are fired every month. This strategy is especially important when customers “abuse” employees or make unreasonable demands on them. (Source: Earl Sasser and James Heskett)

The rapidly growing Belvedere Trading (#165) gives both traders and its information technology staff opportunities to share ideas and take on new roles. “We want for every employee to feel an ownership in the firm, that they’re going to have an impact on what we do,” says Thomas Hutchinson, Belvedere Trading’s president. It’s a flat structure,” he adds. “No matter where they come from, ideas are taken with a serious attitude.” Reflecting that flat structure, everyone in the firm, including interns, receives a bonus twice a year, which ranges from 5% to 200% of the employee’s salary. (Source: Chicago Real Estate Daily)

Keeping It on the Level

Hilcorp’s (#368) annual bonus is universal. There is a single set of targets and every employee is rewarded with the same percentage of his or her salary. The company shells out a maximum 60 percent bonus each year and has averaged 35 percent during the past five years. (Source: The Houston Chronicle)

If Integrated Project Management Company (#547) exceeds its monthly profit targets, all employees receive the same bonus amount, regardless of position.

Making Employees Owners

publix green goldfish

Publix (#91) is an extraordinary company to work for. I’ve been here 36 years, my husband has been with Publix for 38 years, and my children have worked here as well.  We love it because the people are warm and friendly, like our extended family; and because we own a part of the company.  Mr. George, our founder, cared enough about associates to make all of us part owners.” (Source:

Wenck Associates (#312) is a 100 percent ESOP-owned company, backed by robust contributions to the plan and has enjoyed healthy growth to the value of the company stock. The ESOP program and contributions provided are differentiators that helps attract and retain members. From a financial performance standpoint, we have an open book policy and share financial information with employees monthly and at events throughout the year. Wenck provides a “self-directed training account” program, which allows employees to obtain additional development and training throughout the year to further their education and chase their dreams. There are many opportunities to grow, to be flexible, to have a balanced life and the result is, employees turning around and doing great things. (Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Shares went to all 82 staff at Mount Anvil (#408), allocated according to length of service, starting at £5,000. For Killian Hurley, the chief executive and co-founder, it was “the right thing to do”. “There are lots of good companies, but we want to be excellent and to do that, you need engaged, positive people delivering excellent customer service. The share incentive is one of the little steps we can control; we are delighted to do it.” (Source: The Sunday Times)

THE EGALITARIAN ETHOS of this wholly employee-owned architecture practice Make (#424) is reflected in an annual profit share for all 111 staff. Everyone is a partner, and all feel fairly treated. It stands to reason that as owners, the staff insist on equitable pay. (Source: The Sunday Times)

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Semco has an interesting program. You don’t need to wait until you’re old to enjoy your retirement. The idea is that you can take advantage of it once a week, from any age. The “Retire a little bit” project (#190) was created based on a life-cycle analysis. In any analysis that we undertake, we will see that we have money when we don’t have time to enjoy it, time when we no longer have financial certainty and the ability to enjoy nature and sports when we no longer have the health to do so. The program allows the person to do what they plan to do when they retire, once a week, like an art course, play sports in the afternoon or simply spend the day with their kids. The employee will have the option to not work one day a week, replacing this day in the future, after they retire, with a proportional salary. (Source:

All of the examples in this post were taken from the  Green Goldfish Project. The Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Green goldfish are the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, reinforce culture, increase retention and drive positive WoM. The book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on March 29, 2013.

Lattice not Ladders – You Have No Boss at W.L. Gore

Leaders Should Be Chosen By Those Who Follow Them

#46 in the Green Goldfish ProjectW.L. Gore

wl gore lattice green goldfish

Taken from an article in Fast Company:

A visionary corporation, Gore is built from a blueprint that its founder refers to as a “lattice” (as opposed to a “ladder”). There is no visible hierarchy at Gore — and no job titles. In fact, there are no bosses. Instead, there are leaders who achieve their positions by gaining followers. Business goals are established by consensus.

Gore’s internal “structure” was put into place in 1958 by cofounder Bill Gore, an ex-DuPont exec who believed that leaders should be chosen by the people who follow them.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here an insightful post by Gary Hamel in WSJ and a great corporate video by Gore:

The Green Goldfish Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees.  Green goldfish are the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, increase employee retention and drive positive WoM.