During my day off yesterday we visited the John Lewis store in Edinburgh. I was reminded by the sign at the entrance about the joint ownership of the company by the employees.
On our way home I wondered if education could learn anything from the John Lewis example?
The following objective analysis of John Lewis Partnership plc sets out some of key features:
‘John Lewis Partnership plc’, commonly referred to as ‘John Lewis’. In 1995 it had 41,100 partners, 23 department stores, 112 Waitrose supermarkets, a turnover of GBP 2.8 bill and pre-tax profits GBP 150 mill.
John Lewis is a public limited company (PLC) which apparently belongs to its employees as a group. This is collective ownership and employees are referred to as partners.
Management needs to run the enterprise in the interests of all partners ‘past, present and future’. A good employer. Well looked-after employees (partners), contented and well motivated, giving helpful and friendly service. Employees receive each year a share of the profits which is paid out as a cash bonus.
Large and competitive, aiming to provide good service and value for money. In practice applying its slogan ‘Never knowingly undersold’ to the point where partners receive a small reward when they point out that a competitor charges less than John Lewis.
The John Lewis Partnership seems to provide good conditions of employment and reward for partners and provide its customers with quality goods at competitive prices combined with excellent service. It is successful and expanding successfully as a result.”
So what might be the impact upon schools if a sum of money was available to the whole school if an agreed target was reached?
I’d argue that it could have a very positive impact and that the bonus would be shared a standard flat rate across all members of staff? – the average bonus for John Lewis employees is GBP 1,800
People will probably have a few concerns with this idea:
Wouldn’t people become dependent upon a bonus as opposed to a guaranteed salary- which they might not get if the bonus target is not met?
What if there are some members of the team who are not “pulling their weight” – should they be allowed to benefit from the bonus?
Why a flat rate? – a GBP 1,800 of will represent different %s for people with different salary scales.
These are all legitimate concerns (and there will be many others) but I still think the positive impact of “shared ownership” of a school and the notion of collective responsibility for its success or failure has some interesting potential.