Hello Innovation Leaders, If you click on the link at the end of this e-mail to go to the Innovation Labs website - you can listen to the ask Doug Questions from Charlotte part 1.
In addition - I've pasted a posting from the Brain Brew Blog - a private blog for Innovation Engineering Black Belt. It's written by Barry Bruns - retired USA Air Force Vice Wing Commander and also Certified Innovation Engineering Black Belt.
Empowerment by Barry Bruns
You've been hearing Willing and Able since the first IELI, now we're going to dig a bit deeper into it. What's this have to do with the topic of leadership? Strap in, before the ride is over you should be able to answer that for yourselves and your clients. IELI is about making the willing able, but it also introduces its attendees to the need for leadership. Ultimately, IELI helps people in leadership positions make their people more able to think differently, to begin changing their mindsets to go beyond "That's how we always do things around here." But, as you know from working with IEMS clients and potential clients, it takes more than even an intense 2.5 day institute to make them proficient. It makes sense to begin with the able piece. Obviously the two are related in many ways, one influencing the other.
Many books on leadership talk about development of the followers, but I've learned to break it down much more. What is the task assigned? What are they supposed to do, and not do? Most discussions of empowerment seem to assume that everyone knows what it means. Ask for a definition, don't be surprised if you don't get one. If you do, it will normally focus on the person or team's ability to do something. If they're able, "turn them loose. That's how to empower them, by golly." That's only part of it. Look at the other headings under Able above--Resources and Authority. Even if the follower has the skills, do they have what they need to accomplish the task assigned? Do they have the authority, or do they have to mother-may-I at every turn of the nut? Do they precisely know the limitations, how far they can go on the things they are allowed, or required to do, their mandates?
How does support fit in here?
Here's the Reader's Digest version, well, maybe nowadays it's the blog version. If a follower, individual or team, has the capability measured in certifiable skills, if they have the resources—tools and funding—and they know exactly what they are supposed to do and what the limits are, and something goes wrong, it is incumbent upon the boss to support them to the hilt. If they knowingly, willfully, step outside of that authority box, (defined by their mandates enclosed within the limits,) if they exceed their allowable funding or use improper tools, if they do not use the skills they've been certified on, then you "Crush their ass like a grape." That's a quote from the Vice Commander of the flying wing in was in back in 1974, a Col William Kirk. No, not the Star Trek guy, but a hell of a good boss and leader. So, under Empowerment we deal with Willing, and Able. Under Able we deal with Capabilities, Resources, and Authority. All of those are in direct control of the boss, the leader. This is where Deming's 94% of the problems belong to management fits in. Everything under these three headings are things, things that management provides to their people. Training, certification, tools, funding, job descriptions, task directions, limits and common errors to avoid, are all things. Without them, the workers cannot succeed, not matter how willing they are or how much coercion they receive. This is why we start with ABLE. Next week we'll dive into the WILLING piece, and this should begin to fit together better for you. Don't be afraid to go back and review the previous blogs, this is like learning math. It is additive, you can't really jump in at the middle and understand it.
Does seeing resources and authority along with capability help you understand what is typically missing when people are supposed to be empowered?
This moves the responsibility from the worker to their bosses, who are responsible for everything necessary to make the workers able. Does that make sense?
If you've ever been a boss, does this begin to help you understand what worked well for you and what did not?
Same goes for your best and worse bosses. Are you beginning to see what made them good or bad?