Re: Shared Authority LO2053

James Rieley (
Wed, 12 Jul 1995 06:57:36 -0500

Replying to LO2039 --

In our organization, the issue of shared authority was ( and still is) a
topic of concern. Ironically, it is not a concern of our President or
Vice President. It seems only to be a concern of the population group
that "feels" most threatened by the issue. We have defined "shared
decision making" (our verbiage for your statement) as developing input
from all areas of the organization so that senior management can make more
informed decisions. The input comes in the form of recommendations. To
date, every recommendation that has come forth has been accepted, even
though our President has been very open about the fact that the
recommendations would not have been his. He believes, however, that it is
the "people on the front line" who know best what actually needs to be
done to better meet the needs of the customers. The only case in which
recommendations have not yet been accepted have been those that affect
contractual issues. Those have been, and will continue to be, referred to
the respective bargaining units. A note on the issue of being
"threatened." This feeling seems to stem from the perception that if
others are involved in the decision process, that might result in either a
"loss of control/power," or the perception that "we are not needed in the
organization." This is most definitely not the case. (Note: If this can
work at our organization, a college with 79,000+ students, 2,500+
employees, etc., it can work anywhere. It can be an uphill fight,
however. The key thing to begin to examine is "why" do your senior people
believe that it is inappropriate. The use of specific management and
planning tools can help resolve the issue in the way that will be most
favorable to the customers of your organization.)


>Can anyone lend some
>advice and explain why shared authority seems to be so threatening. Is it
>a legitimate characteristic and how might it be applied so that everyone
>feels included without being threatened.

James B. Rieley
Coordinator, The Center for Continuous Quality Improvement
Milwaukee Area Technical College
700 West State Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
414.297.6475 FAX