I’m in Las Vegas this week, attending Worldblu’s 2010 conference, at which Worldblu CEO Traci Fenton will honor the world’s most democratic workplaces. It’s an eclectic group of people and industries, and although there will be a few other educators at the event, it’s primarily an opportunity to learn what some forward-thinking folks in the private sector have learned about how the use of democratic principles can help create an optimal learning environment. In particular, I’m looking forward to hearing more from Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos and the recent focus of an extended profile in the New Yorker.

I’m also preparing to test-drive my belief that the core challenge in any organization — whether it’s an elementary school or an online shoe retailer — is to strike the right balance between providing a few clearly-defined, goal-oriented shared structures, and reserving enough space for individuals to feel free to express themselves, ad lib, try new ideas, and find ways to improve the overall flow of the organization. I’ll be blogging about it all week, so please stay tuned and share with me any questions you think would be particularly worth considering.

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