Empowerment LO26324

From: J.C. Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 03/11/01

Replying to LO26310 --

Replying to LO26310 --

HelLO-ers, hi Scott,

you replied to Rick's post on Empowerment LO26308

Empowering or authorizing is a crucial process as any in organizing. It is
tied up with concepts like control, responsibility, engagement, belonging
and ultimatily with results. It seems to be grounded in tension, it needs
a force, a position, releases energy and is needed for doing work. On the
other hand, you've probably heard the saying "Knowledge is power". And the
slogan "Power to the people" or "The Power of Love". All this makes me
conclude that we should look at the ways we look at power, the way we
experience power, rather than power itself.

The way I see it is like this: the essence of power is organizing. Forces,
physical like gravitation and electo-magnetism as well as psychological
like fear and happyness, shape our world and organize it into what it
seems to be ("Be what you would seem to be", the Duchess to Alice). In
this line "empowerment" might be the same as "self-organizing". So
empowering people would mean organizing self-organizing. And this is a
nice paradox when one is self-organizing organizing. When one is not
self-organized to begin with, how can one become self-organized with an
intervention from the outside?The other way around: many organisations
seem to be based on the idea: do not self-organize, we will do that for
you - we already did. And then they ask their employees (why would one use
the word employee in this context and not people?) to become empowered.
Everybody is empowered, but we have to learn to use our powers. The use of
power brings with it responsibilities. When it might seem to be cheaper
to avoid responsibilities, we're tempted to do that. This seems to be the

When I was a production manager myself I tried to be as little in control
as possible. When people wanted power to do something, they had it; when
they needed power from me, they got it. The important thing is to be there
or rather, "not to empower when not needed and to empower when needed". A
balancing act.

kind regards,

Jan Lelie

>I think that is what we need to focus on doing these days. Way too many
>people are un-empowered because of management practices and their own
>stubbornness to try things differently. So, we rattle the cages of the
>managers demanding improved service results or we change the measurement
>system or some such intervention to push the managers into allowing people
>to do more by restricting them less...
>We cannot give The Power. We CAN remove those things that get in the way,


Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development mind@work - Group Decision Process Support janlelie@wxs.nl + 31 (0)70 3243475

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