Operations Payoff

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Where Have the Empowered Teams Gone?

One of the cornerstones of the World Class Manufacturing wave in the 1990s was empowered teams. Some of the books that lead the movement included “Zapp – The Lightning of Empowerment” by William Byham, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni and “Empowered Teams” by Wellins, Byham and Wilson. However, with the advent of Lean, the focus on empowered teams has waned.

This is unfortunate because one of the reasons Lean fails is that people become disengaged from the process. They succumb to the flavor of the month or, as one author put it, “Death by 1000 Kaizens.”

In my forthcoming book “1+1=100: Using Partnerships for Breakthrough Results,” I discuss the process of partnering with employees to create empowerment. A few of the key considerations include:

1) A team has a common goal, otherwise it’s more of a committee (with the associated discord)

2) Team members support each other, even sacrificing their own advancement for the benefit of the team

3) Team members learn from each other’s successes and mistakes. While holding each other accountable, they focus on continuous learning and don’t dwell on errors.

How empowered are your organization’s teams? Are the results of the entire organization improving? Is there a positive buzz of empowerment, engagement and mutual respect? Reawakening team empowerment can accelerate your results.

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

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