Leadership "Teams" LO13071

Mon, 31 Mar 1997 00:25:12 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO13005 --

Jim R recently wrote:

> Until we reconcile ourselves to bring everything to the table and
> fundamentally restructure it so that it is equitable, we will continue to
> see a large portion of the workforce unplugged....and watch the talent
> walk out the door to a better deal.

His note caught my attention, as I am struggling with writing an article
on Is 'Empowerment' Enough? Within the area of adult change and
development (adult education, with its tradition of social change and
transformation), "empowerment" has been debated for many, many years.
Much of the debate rests with the ideas of empowerment vs emancipation,
and with democratic principles vs solidarity. I see these relevant within
today's workplace as well, as Jim's other comments made clear.
"Empowering" workers, e.g. through the use of more participatory
processes, teams, etc., is too often done without the "fundamental
restructuring" necessary to bring about the kinds of changes needed within
the workplace, thus the tendency by many to make meaning of new work
paradigms as simply "one more fad." Far too many hidden agendas remain.
The more rational, technical structures may be changed, but there is
little changed within the organizational psyche--where transformation and
the altering of meaning schemes is accomplished.

So a few questions to throw out (understanding that at least some of these
do touch on ground covered periodically last year; my apologies to those
who are tired of the discussion):

IS empowerment enough?
How might an "empowered" workforce be different from an "emancipated" one,
if at all?
Are democratic work processes the same or different from solidarity? Is
it possible to really have authenticity and equity within the workplace?

I've noticed in Senge's post-Fifth Discipline writing, he talks less of
empowerment and much more of community, aligning himself a bit more
closely with the "soul" writers than previously. How are communities of
practice different than work teams of "empowered" workers? Is it possible
to create true learning organizations by using only technical-rational
approaches? And are such questions merely interesting fodder for debate
of a philsophical or ethical nature, or do they have a place in business?

Just some late night ramblings...


Terri Deems tadeems@aol.com

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