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Organizational Empowerment

The key to empowering organizations is systematically improving the quality of the interactions between their stakeholders through a shift in paradigm. By discerning and correcting invalid assumptions in our paradigms - our way of perceiving the world around us - we can agilely and effectively deal with our problems, uncover opportunities, and positively develop ourselves and our institutions. Improving the accuracy of our paradigms sounds almost trivial, but it is probably more empowering than any other single thing we can do in our personal or corporate lives. It has the short term effect of helping us not just to solve, but to dissolve many of our worst problems. It has the long term effect of increasing productivity, capability, and satisfaction with both our personal and professional lives; of helping us develop ourselves personally and corporately to be the best we can be. That is why we have termed this more accurate paradigm "Empowerment".

Empowerment is a paradigm that focuses on interaction. The entities involved in the interaction may be individuals, organizations, or objects in the environment. While self improvement is definitely a major part of the empowerment paradigm, it is the improvement in our interactions that really makes it effective. An organization whose members interact efficiently and cooperatively, and which interacts with its own environment in like manner, will not only thrive itself, but will improve the quality of life for all of its members, customers, and other stakeholders.

Some of the techniques of interactive management and planning via idealized design that are key to empowerment were originally developed by Dr. Russell Ackoff of the Wharton School and his colleagues. Dr. Ackoff does an excellent job of explaining the nature of systems and how this understanding can be used to manage and plan more effectively in the first part of his book Recreating the Corporation: A Design of Organizations for the 21st Century. If you're interested in managing your organization interactively we recommend that you read this book, or at least the first part, in addition to studying the materials on this site.

However, empowerment is more than just a management style. Only when empowered people are managed interactively and the organization's people, technology, and other assets are integrated effectively can full empowerment be realized. We can help you with all of this. Organizational empowerment is described in this section of the site and you can find details on personal empowerment in the Empower Yourself section of this site. Once you have reviewed these sections you can take some of the following steps to start empowering your organization.

  1. If you haven't already done so, read our overview of empowerment, Empowerment Book I: Fundamentals, or our more in depth book, Empowerment Book II: Foundation. You can purchase a hard copy of either or download them free here.

  2. Begin personally empowering yourself as described in the Empower Yourself section of this site and in the books. Once you're happy with your progress, share the books with your family, friends, and colleagues.

  3. If you are in a position to do so, try to update the constitution or bylaws of your organization as described in the books. If you aren't in such a position then use the United States constitution or the Constitution of your own country for this exercise. Better yet, if your family is willing, create a family constitution together and try to implement it within your own family. Be sure that everyone involved, including children to the extent possible, consent to the purpose, principles, and everything else in the constitution. Otherwise it will not be effective. (If you're really ambitious you can try this with your church, your neighborhood, or any other group you belong to that would like to organize.)

  4. Remember to think of idealized design and planning as processes rather than goals. Only the immutable parts of a constitution are not subject to change, so everything else about the organization should continually be scrutinized for improvement opportunities.

  5. Since it is the relationships between people and other parts of the organization that define it, rather than the parts themselves, focus your efforts on improving relationships.

  6. Finally, if your associates are willing, start managing your department or organization interactively as described in the aforementioned Empowerment books. Use the methods of idealized design to try to make it the best it can be. Your success will likely inspire others to try interactive management and it will eventually spread throughout the organization. It is just as possible to empower an organization from the bottom up as it is from the top down, although it may take longer.

If you still have questions about empowerment or how to implement it in your organization please contact us. We will be happy to speak with you.

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