Will Sr. Managers Change? LO7531

Brock Vodden (brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca)
Tue, 21 May 1996 16:31:49 -0400

Replying to LO7513 --

At 09:58 PM 5/20/96 -0400, you wrote:

>This aspect of changing paradigms in business is what first attracted me
>to the LO stuff. I must admit that my first reaction was, "yeah, right"!
>I am still very skeptical that environments free of abuse are conducive to
>the profit motive. I want to believe that people will do the right thing
>because it is the right thing. But this nagging voice deep inside says,
>"why would the big boys want to give up all that power?" I have yet to
>see the evidence that it is more profitable to do business this new way,
>as opposed to same old...

I think we are confusing three aspects of organization management:
responsibility, authority, and accountability. Each aspect implies a
certain kind of power. If there were only one kind of power, then indeed
any manager who empowers employees would be divesting herself of that
power. The VP of a division of a company is acccountable to the President
for what is done in his/her department. If that VP empowers her reports
(managers) by giving them authority to act as they see fit, the VP's
accountability to the president does not change in any way. The managers
in turn are accountable to the Vice President for their actions and

Empowerment, when it is used effectively, is not a process of someone
giving something up (thereby losing something) and someone else grasping
it. It is intended to benefit both the giver and the receiver and the
organization in which they work. Responsibility and authority granted to
the manager must be in balance with each other, and the accountability
(including sanctions) must be clear.

If the organization does not become more effective from empowerment of
employees, the process has failed. Not every organization is culturally
ready to apply the concept.

I realize that my perception of empowerment does not differ from the old
concept of delegation, except in terms of the degree of freedom usually
implicit in the term.

I would be interested in other views of empowerment.

>>Brock asked, in essence, how do we make people listen who aren't
>>I think we'll be seeing more large
>>congolmerates going belly-up because of their short-sightedness et al.
>How so? I mean how does not embracing the concepts we talk about equal
>losing on the open market? What am I missing here?

This refers to another issue that I raised regarding organizations that
are mis-managed. I was not criticizing them for failing to embrace any
particular management style; I was just pointing out that they have blind
spots which cause them to neglect certain aspects of business. E.g., one
company considers HR unimportant, consequently no one monitors HR issues,
develops policies, etc. The company has many HR problems -some very
serious, which negatively affect productivity, and that is the bottom
line. Another manufacturing company which is run by Sales and Financial
people went down the tube two years ago because of neglectful mamangement
of the manufacturing function.

I was also pointing out that in the last few years, I have seen several
established companies go bankrupt as a result of this kind of inadequate

Thanks for the comments.


Brock Vodden Vodden Consulting Business Process Improvement "Where People and Systems Meet" brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>