It's not just semantics LO6394

Julie Beedon (
Wed, 03 Apr 1996 17:54:43

Replying to LO6331 --

Michael made some good points about the whole question of
empowerment (or whatever we call it)

I have been watching this thread develop for some time and
considering whether to put some thoughts in. Michaels points
finally prompted me to think about saying something.

> They gave case
>after case of managers who really intended that teams be empowered -
>and then intervened when the teams made decisions that the managers
>wouldn't have considered frivolous or wrong.
>Their problem was the same as the managers'. How to give people
>freedom and yet depend on their answers.

It seems to me this is the real dilemma.

A model I found useful some years ago is based on the expert/pair of
hands/collaboration roles described in Peter Block's Flawless
Consulting (I have come to know it as the To/For/With model)

In Expert/To mode the manager (leader or consultant)

* have the answers
* give instructions
* tell people what to do

interestingly this gives the person 'done to' a neat opt out -
they can hold the expert responsible for the results. "Well I
just did what he/the system said to - I knew it wouldn't work" {not
empwerment at all!!]

In Pair of Hands/For mode (the names don't work too well here I
could do with help on this one) the leader/manager/consultant

* says the workers know best
* says little of nothing of what they want
* just do what you think/tell me what is needed
* you are empowered

it is a sort of 'set my people free model' of
empowerment which leaves the managers having things done 'for'
them. Often this leaves people without the strategic information
they need for wise decision making and they construct plans which
are not feasible or which inadvertantly miss key strategic
boundary issues. So the manager ends up saying "I knew this would
not work - I need to intervene"

In collaborative/with mode it is a 50/50 process whereby the

* work with people to diagnose and share information on
the issues
* develop a set of common objectives/goals/parameters which
meet both their needs
* stay in dialogue as plans emerge and share data and
the result of this process is a real sense of shared
responsibility - no one is doing anything because someone else
said so but because they are in complete agreement that this make

We developed a way of talking about this which says sharing
responsibility means it is incumbent on you to say what you need
and dialogue/share data - if someone makes a decision you would
not have agreed with then somehow you did not share enough data -
and no one should leave and say I never thought this was a good

Sorry if this is a bit long ..........

Julie Beedon
VISTA Consulting - for a better future


Julie Beedon <>

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