Scanlon Principles

Joe Scanlon and Dr. Carl Frost developed time-tested practices and principles that transform organization’s culture for the highest engagement of employees in learning and effectiveness. These principles create better business practices, providing whole organization, executive learning and networking opportunities.

“I see the Scanlon Principles as allowing us to unleash the tremendous energy within the company through participation… to direct the beam toward the desired target through Principles of identity, to constantly keep the powerful beam in tune through equity, and to continually strengthen the beam through competence.”

Dwane Baumgardner, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Donnelly Corporation

Scanlon is Based on Four Fundamental Principles and Processes

The First Principle is Identity

The Principle of Identity is based on three assumptions:

  1. Change is a universal given and is our only hope.
  2. A person’s performance/behavior is a consequence of how they have been treated.
  3. Every person and organization is in the process of becoming better or worse.

Scanlon leaders create Identity through a process of education. Their curriculum includes the organization’s mandate, customers, competitive challenges, etc.

Practices that support Identity: Wide sharing of information including financial data “open-book management”, accessible leadership, open forums, visits to customers, suppliers, and investors.

Questions about Identity:

  • Is there a need to change?
  • What is the right job for me to be doing?
  • How do I know when I am doing the job right?

Participation is the Second Principle.


Participation is defined as the opportunity, which only management can give, and the responsibility, which only employees can accept, to influence decisions in their areas of competence.

Practices that support Participation: employee involvement, participative management, teams, flat organizations, suggestion systems.

Questions about Participation:

  • Do I encourage others to make decisions?
  • Do I take the responsibility for my decisions?

Equity is the Third Principle


Equity is defined as a genuine commitment to account for the needs of all constituents including customers, investors, and employees.

The process of Equity is accountability. Scanlon leaders regularly report the organization’s performance relative to customers, investors, and employees needs.

Practices that support Equity: gainsharing, goalsharing, profit-sharing, balanced scorecards,tracking and reporting of performance results.

Questions about Equity:

  • Are the Equity needs of all constituents in balance?
  • How do we know what organizational performances, practices, relationships, will fulfill the Equity needs of all constituents?
  • How do we use Equity to hold ourselves and our organization accountable?

Competence is the Fourth Principle


Competence is defined as the ability to respond to the constant demand for improvement and change. It requires a commitment to be in a state of becoming something that you never were before.

Practices that support Competence: training, development, job enlargement, Learning Organizations.

Questions about Competence:

  • Am I willing to help others become more competent?
  • Am I willing to commit to make myself better every day?