Defining Empowerment LO7686

Barry Mallis (
30 May 1996 15:53:51 -0400

Reply to: RE>Defining Empowerment LO7662

Dave Birren supplied a wonderful equation, broad in scope as wonderful
things may sometimes be to culture-specific interpretation:

Empowerment = Freedom x Direction x Support

Here's how I see it: "Freedom" means management less afraid to lose
prestige and power by letting their employees actually think and apply
ideas; employees who have cast away fear, because among other things they
come to recognize a reduction in, let us say, turf-based hierarchy and a
concomitant rise in team work.

"Direction" means coherence of purpose in the organization. For instance,
mine is a manufacturing company. So we are here to make and sell at a
fair price products that meet or exceed customer requirements, while
providing a positive environment for those who work. Direction can come
from hoshin planning--strategic goal setting cascaded down through the
organization so highest level goals (e.g. Reduce customer drop-out rate by
13% by year end) can be interpreted and applied in the smallest work cell.

"Support" refers to sponsorship in my mental model. Sponsors are managers
who pave the way when it needs paving; who are team promoters for the
sake of real, strategy-driven goals; who are process facilitators and
encouragers, celebrators and acknowledgers.

Best regards,

Barry Mallis

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