Empowerment: Making it Real in Your Organization

Empowerment: Making it Real in Your Organization

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Empowerment: Making it Real in Your Organization

The word “empowerment “ has been applied so broadly that it is now meaningless. It has become “a catch-all and therefore empty word” as pointed out in reference to women by Hadley Freeman in her  article (‘From shopping to naked selfies, how ‘empowerment’ lost its meaning’.)

Sadly, with the overuse of certain words, many terms that were once fairly understood have lost their clarity. ‘Leadership’ is just one of the casualties. How can we give empowerment back some useful meaning, and more importantly, how can we make empowerment real in an organization?

Giving empowerment an Operational Definition

In order to make empowerment real and happening as opposed to being some warm and fuzzy notion, we need to have an “operational definition” for it. Let’s give it one as suggested by Dr. Eli Goldratt: empowerment means that there is alignment between a person’s authority and the responsibility they are given. That’s it, pure and simple. In other words, people need to be given the authority to carry out all those tasks that come under their responsibility. This may sound obvious, but it is often not  the case. Indeed, a great deal of time is wasted in organizations with frequent back and forth of people having to ask for permission/authority in order to get on with the job in hand.

What prevents us from empowering people successfully?

Our  goal is, of  course, to manage effectively. In order to achieve this we must  satisfy two necessary conditions:

1. in order to manage effectively we must  make sure the work is always carried out.

2. On the other  hand, to manage effectively, we must  empower  our  staff  (we have recognized the value of  empowerment).

Framing the problem as a conflict we can resolve

This brings us into a conflict: to empower  our  staff  we must  not  interfere with their  work. At the same time, in some cases, to guarantee that the work gets carried out  we have to interfere.

What  is the assumption underlying this second logical connection? In other  words, why do we say we are obliged to interfere? Because people are not  able to carry out the job on their  own. Therefore, the only way to achieve effective empowerment  is to make sure people are able to do their  work on their  own.

At t his point the key question we must  ask ourselves is: Why can’t they do their  work on their  own?

We feel there are two valid answers to this question:

Answer number one:  people do not  have all the authority required to carry out the tasks they are responsible for. In order to realign authority and responsibility we use the  Thinking Process tool called the Misalignment Cloud.

The Misalignment  Cloud is a logical tool which allows us to identify and objectively represent  a conflict  in authority. This conflict  generally exists between the task the person has to carry out  and the rule of the system which prevents them from doing so. To resolve this conflict  we must remove the gap between authority and responsibility. How can we eliminate t he need for  managers to continuously intervene to solve the problem pr event ing the employee from carrying out their task? How can we systematically develop a new authority that  allows this? How can we get  people to accept  new authority and act  accordingly?

By writing the Misalignment  Cloud, we can answer these questions and identify the cause of the misalignment  bet ween authority and responsibility. This is often referred to as the “firefighting “ cloud as it refers to those frequent  situations where managers have to step in to “put out the fire”. This is due to the misalignment  of responsibility and authority.

In our next post we will look at answer number two and offer more detail on making empowerment operational.

Thinking, speaking and acting

Empowerment needs to mean what it says. When our language loses its meaning we have a serious problem. We are no longer able to make sense of things with the accuracy that is the reward of a rich vocabulary. Not only are we less able to distinguish shades of significance in our reality, we lose the ability not just to articulate but to form our very thoughts and how we interpret everything that happens around us. The Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints help us to think AND articulate our reality clearly and operationally. How can we manage without them?

The Intelligent Management Partners are trusted advisors to leaders of organizations. We blog about how to shift your thinking towards broader, systemic possibilities for yourself and your organization. Sign up to our blog here. Intelligent Management provides education and training  on systemic management, W. Edwards Deming’s management philosophy and the Theory of Constraints  (Decalogue methodology) in North America and Europe.

See our new books  The Human Constraint – a business novel that has sold in 27 countries so far and  ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’  from CRC Press, New York. by our Founder Dr. Domenico Lepore,  Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.

The post Empowerment: Making it Real in Your Organization appeared first on Intelligent Management.

Original: http://www.intelligentmanagement.ws/empowerment-making-real-organization/
By: angela montgomery
Posted: May 22, 2018, 3:52 pm

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