Will Sr. Managers Change? LO7575

Rol Fessenden (76234.3636@CompuServe.COM)
23 May 96 10:18:58 EDT

Replying to LO7531 --

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...

For 90% of what passes for empowerment, you are absolutely correct. who
needs it? why should I empower anyone -- assuming it was even within my
power to do so -- unless I get something in return? The operative phrase
is the last one -- get something in return. I have to get better, more
effective performance -- better results -- or there is no value. The
performance may come in many ways, but it has to be there.

The vast majority of people who want 'empowerment' actually want freedom
from responsibility. The reality is that empowerment carries
responsibility with it. People blame senior management for the state of
the corporation. However, once senior management empowers others, then
those others now own the responsibility to perform, and in reality, to
perform at a higher level than was being accomplished under the old
paradigm. This is uncomfortable for many people.

It is also difficult. Most organizations are complex, and if you try to
understand them from a systems dynamics perspective, you find it for all
practical purposes impossible. Many of the 'simple' solutions available
among conventional thinkers have already been tried and found wanting.
Have you ever wondered why there are more literary critics than good
authors? Same rules apply among organizational leaders.

Your comment about environments free of abuse is an interesting one. I
have experienced profit, education, and non-profit environments, and the
most abusive in my experience are the non-profits. Hospitals are horribly
hierarchic, and social work agencies -- ironically -- could care less
about the feelings of their employees. I suspect these organizations
mistake DOING good for BEING good.

Political in-fighting about the most petty things imaginable is most
rampant in educational institutions. For-profits are pretty average on
both these dimensions.

As far as delegation or empowerment, some for-profits are considerably
better at it than the non-profits. It is hard to compare to schools
because almost all the work is by individual contributor. Social work
agency leaders -- as a group -- are extraordinarily jealous of their
power, and are known for their unwillingness to share information.

I hasten to apologize to individuals who feel criticised. My comments are
intended as general statements, and not to be taken as criticisms of all
individuals. However, as generally true statements they are accurate.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc. 76234.3636@compuserve.com

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