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In the past, businesses were organized and

Empowerment for the structured in a way that would make it difficult

for them to survive in the 1990s. The common
year 2000 and beyond characteristics included: a strict hierarchy of
authority, centralized decision making, vertical
communication, and a comprehensive set of
rules. There was very little delegation and desti-
tute employee involvement. Successful organi-
Nick Nykodym, zations today are embarking on a new approach
centered on teamwork. It entails the formation
Sonny S. Ariss,
of empowered teams to replace the numerous
Jack L. Simonetti layers in the hierarchy of authority. This new
and Jean Plotner philosophy has allowed organizations facing
endurance problems to survive the restructuring
Harrison and Pratt[1, p. 22], determined that
The authors
there are four groups of teams which create the
Nick Nykodym is Professor of Management; Sonny S. Ariss
transformation of an organization. They are as
is Associate Professor; Jack L. Simonetti is Professor of
follows: executive steering committee, process
Management and former Chair of the Management Develop-
evaluation committee, line management, and
ment; and Jean Plotner is Research Associate, all at the
consultants/facilitators. Each group is held
University of Toledo, Ohio, USA.
accountable and has a precisely determined part
to play in organizational restructuring. The first
team to start the ball rolling is the executive
Analyzes recent thought relating to the forced restructuring
steering committee (ESC); it composes the
of businesses. In general, businesses are unable to compete
organization’s vision, goals, and objectives. The
in the new global environment in their present state because
second team, the process evaluation team
of worldwide competition; national changes involving
(PET), does a process appraisal; it creates the
mergers, bank failures and company takeovers. Companies
operation and layout for constructive develop-
which can incorporate a team philosophy into their organiza-
ment. This team can create other teams to
tions will have a better chance of surviving in the year 2000.
research specific areas of potential problems or
Details the new and more stringent requirements that are
potential opportunity. Then, the resources are
placed on leadership and the empowerment of teams
made available and modifications are actualized
through leadership. Focusses on information as to how to
by those managers who are in line positions.
choose the right leadership and teams. Uses significant
The line positions are where the actual changes
examples of businesses which have successfully restructured
occur and therefore are the most difficult. For
to illustrate the importance of fostering a leadership style
this reason it is crucial that line personnel are in
which will advocate teamwork.
agreement with all phases of the plan. In addi-
tion, outside expertise can be advisable where a
fresh look is needed to overcome persistent
outdated views.
Downsizing or delayering does not in and of
itself change the rate of productivity. Because of
this, companies are changing the structure of
their organizations to eliminate the traditional
levels of hierarchy; eliminating boundaries
created by departments or functions. In its final
form, the horizontal organization might be
made up of a small group of senior executives
who are responsible for finances and human
Empowerment in Organizations
Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · pp. 36–42 resources. The rest of the corporation “works
© MCB University Press · ISSN 0968-4891 together in multi-disciplinary teams that
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

perform core processes, such as product devel- Changing views for leadership
opment or sales generation”[2, p. 77]. This
People with the ability to lead others successful-
focus on process eliminates the layers of posi-
ly are rarely recognized before the fact. In other
tions; and improves production and cuts
words, successful leadership is not usually
expenses. predictable. “An effective leader, like a success-
ful artist, must love and be profoundly commit-
Changing to a horizontal structure can be ted to a vision”[3, p. 18]. The leaders of today
complicated who will still be here for the year 2000 are those
with vision; who have the ability to communi-
Eliminating the neatly arranged positions people cate that vision to others; and, who have the
have become accustomed to can be the ultimate moral authority and credibility so that others
challenge. Even outlining the processes of an will follow where they lead. Principles and
organization can be complex and terribly con- values must not only be believed by leaders, but
fusing. The manager has the role of convincing their actions must follow their beliefs. They
people to think comprehensively and eliminate should also be able to follow through with deci-
their familiar advertising, investing, or manu- sions that support their values and beliefs. Their
facturing hats. “This is the hardest damn thing visions must be meaningful and yet expandable
to do”, says Terry M. Ennis, who heads up a by the other members of their teams. The lead-
group to help Du Pont’s businesses “organize ers must have the ability to communicate their
along horizontal lines”[2, p. 78]. People who visions to their team members and gain their
have spent their lives climbing the corporate support.
ladder find it very unsettling and difficult to
make the transformation. These people are used ‘…Leaders must recognize the human need for
to having everyone in their place and respon- recognition in other people and have the
sible for their own tasks. It is an achievement to welfare of other people on their minds…’
obtain cooperation between the separate
departments. It is also important to note that
employees who are task oriented and depart- Innovation and imagination should be keywords
mentalized cannot see the organizational needs by which the teams do their brainstorming.
as a whole. Furthermore, leaders must be able to motivate
others to do their best for the organization. In
In the 1960s and 1970s, it was discovered
addition, leaders must have the ability to give
that task orientation did not work well so matrix
credit to others. Likewise, when a decision goes
teams were created, leaving the levels hierarchy
wrong, they must be willing to take the blame
in tact. That was a partial fix for then. Execu-
and when it goes right, they must be willing to
tives are forced to find different solutions today
give the credit. Therefore, leaders must recog-
because the rules for competing have been
nize the human need for recognition in other
altered and they have been forced into an accel-
people. Hence, leaders must have the welfare of
erated global market. Managers must compre- other people on their minds and not their own
hend what their customers require and do a welfare.
complete examination of what it will take to gain Survival for leaders means that they will no
potential customers. At this point, an organiza- longer be the authoritarian leaders of yesterday;
tion can begin to recognize its most important instead, they will be the team members of
core processes to achieve its objectives – tomorrow. This is a hefty criterion for the lead-
“Whether they are lowering costs by 30 percent ers of today who still want to be leaders in the
or developing new products in half the time it year 2000[3]. According to Sabo[4] award
normally requires”[2, p. 78]. The ultimate idea winning leaders realize that the public comes
is, as Du Pont’s Terry Ennis puts it: “Our goal is first. “It’s so fundamental, yet a lot of people do
to get everyone focussed on the business as a not keep it in the forefront of their efforts. They
system in which the functions are seamless”[2, forget who they are working for”, says Bell,
p. 79]. president emeritus of the American Advertising
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

Federation, Washington, DC, and currently short-term planning with immediate profits as
president of AAF’s foundation. Equally interest- the main goal making true restructuring of the
ing, Kathryn E. Johnson, president and chief organizational processes impossible. Bottom
executive officer of Western Hospitals and a line, technocrats must be recognized so they can
recipient of the 1993 Key Award, claims that be placed in benign positions where their talents
“Her team of staff and volunteers spent a are enhanced, but without the power to remove
number of years repositioning the Health Care or add team members. It is important to note
Forum…to focus on creating healthier commu- technocrats are very important to the organiza-
nities rather than on addressing illness-based tional structure, as long as their power is kept
care”. They see themselves as “More of an in check. Today, a company comprising too
action-oriented think tank…[4, p. 124]. She too many technocrats is a company headed for
recognizes her changing role for survival and trouble.
success in the 1990s. Next, we have the artists. The artist’s peers
Charlotte St Martin, who chaired ASAE in and colleagues describe them as “bold, daring,
1990-1991, says they worked a “back to the exciting, volatile, intuitive, entrepreneurial,
future” planning model. Members envisioned inspiring, imaginative, unpredictable and
the ideal future for their organization, and then funny”[5, p. 49]. They believe in convincing the
they worked backward to create it”[4, p. 125]. people around them to buy into their visions
She says that “We also have to find ways to and dreams; they never are middle of the road
engage emerging leaders, who come from with their opinions; and people are either clear-
increasingly diverse backgrounds”[4, p. 125]. In cut friends or clear-cut enemies of the artists.
addition, she says that she believes in multi- The artists start off very ambiguous, but their
generational input; that is, she wants to hear plans become clear through their activation. If
from team members at every level of the organi- at all possible, you certainly want at least one
zation. According to George D. Kirkland, presi- artist on every team. The companies that recog-
dent of the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors nize the artists for their visions and dreams will
Bureau since 1990, “Successful management be successful in restructuring the organizational
has its roots in the willingness to look for what is processes. At this point in time, however, the
best in other people…”[4, p. 124]. Obviously, artists are losing out to the technocrats. This
the people already at the top see the changing does not mean doom and gloom for these com-
roles of leaders very clearly and are adapting panies. It does mean restructuring of staff
themselves to accommodate those changes. within them. More often than not, the artists are
still there; they are simply not in positions of
power where their dreams and visions can be
Choosing the right team members
brought to light. The companies which have the
Part of the process of restructuring into teams is wherewithal to restructure their staff so their
to be able to identify the personalities of the artists’ visions and dreams can become realities
managers you employ. According to Pitcher[5], will have a greater chance of survival to see the
they are either technocrat, artist or craftsman. year 2000.
“Technocrats are described by their peers and Last but not least, we have the craftsmen.
colleagues as controlled, conservative, serious, These people tend to stay employed at one place
analytical, no-nonsense, intense, determined, for a very long time. Consequently, they know
cerebral, methodical and meticulous”[5, p. 48]. what took place many years ago and care very
Taken separately these terms could be a virtue; much about what takes place presently and well
but when they are found in one person – you into the future. They have the experience, loyal-
can have trouble. Basically, technocrats prefer to ty, assurance, continuity, and organizational
throw out the old, including employees, and adhesive that generates trust, respect, and com-
bring in the new. “Give technocrats ultimate mitment among their peers. Employees will take
authority and he or she will drive out everything the long range view and make sacrifices after the
else”[5, p. 50]. Most of today’s businesses are craftsmen enlighten them by explaining that the
run by technocrats who have surrounded them- sacrifices are for the good of the company and
selves with other technocrats. They focus on not just money placed into specific pockets.
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

Equally significant, the craftsmen are by nature (3) Empower people; enhance responsibility
conventional. Most importantly though, the with authority.
craftsmen’s knowledge gained from past experi-
TQM can be a one step at a time procedure.
ence is fundamental to the decision-making
Bottom line, the goal is to get more accom-
plished for less.
Another virtue of the craftsmen is patience;
As organizational needs surface, employees
they realize that their knowledge came slowly
are empowered according to their ability and
over the years, so they give time for acceptance
have complete authority over their particular
and change in other people. Craftsmen are
restructuring processes. Most situations can
described as “wise, amiable, humane, honest,
best be managed by employees who have hands
straightforward, responsible, trustworthy, rea-
on knowledge of their daily activities. The team
sonable, open-minded and realistic”[5, p. 50].
approach lines up the various individuals who
Companies that recognize their craftsmen for have the most abilities in a given area. However,
their value can avoid making mistakes that were it is important to remember that each team is
made in the past; they can also reap the benefits carefully created by an executive member. Even
from implementation of sound long-term objec- more important, it is crucial that once the teams
tives and goals. are in place, they are left on their own to do the
Essentially, technocrats, artists and crafts- restructuring process – this can be a most diffi-
men are needed for well-balanced organization- cult but necessary assignment for a Chief
al teams. Usually, people are a combination of Executive Officer (CEO)[6, p. 34].
the different personalities, so it is important to Some examples of successful teams are as
bring out their strengths by placing them in follows: a team created to manage the general
positions that enhance their value. For real information, publications, and public services
success it takes the different personalities work- meets to examine their employment needs, how
ing together to bring about the restructuring they link together, and how best to distribute
process. It is equally important that technocrats, information to staff persons and the press.
artists and craftsmen recognize one another’s
differences and the values of those differences so
that they might better be able to communicate ‘…It is a good idea to create a crisis task
and work as teams. force. They can make plans to prevent or
respond to any crisis situation in
Empowerment of teams
The best in leaders acclaim their great successes Another team meets in regard to continuing
are because they have the ability to motivate and legal education for planning and conducting the
bring out the talents of those who work around legal education programs. They also meet
them. They understand that employees like and weekly to be certain that assignments do not
need ownership and empowerment in order to overlap or conflict; they become think tanks for
grow emotionally and intellectually. possible problems and report the restructuring
“Empowerment fosters confidence, enabling process. As a result of the efforts of just six staff
individuals to step forward and handle situa- members, they are able to conduct more than
tions effectively, without hesitancy or need for 100 continuing legal education sessions each
approval”[6, p. 33]. The idea is to match year, including 40 live seminars[6, p. 34]. Bottom
employee abilities with organizational needs. line, empowerment also causes communication
There is a fancy name for this type of manage- back and forth from every direction. Another
ment called “total quality management” or positive side effect is the bonding that occurs
referred to as TQM which sounds complicated from that communication.
but is really only three simple steps: Another type of task force can be created to
(1) Do it right the first time. prevent or avoid daily management problems.
(2) Communicate needs and expectations of This task force concerns itself with possible or
the customer and the provider. potential problems that might occur. One such
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

committee ensures employees are cross-trained International, a consulting firm that specializes
in different areas of the organization to help in cultural transformation[2, p. 81]. For this
decrease payroll obligations and decrease the reason, your first goal is to remove the tradition-
employing of temporary assistance. al department barriers that have existed for
More importantly, it is a good idea to create a years; this may be the most difficult task you
crisis task force. They can make plans to prevent encounter. Therefore, it is vital that all team
or respond to any crisis situation in advance. members realize that they are changing from
This committee tries to think of every crisis that their departmental hats to team hats. Once in
is imaginable. Then, they create policies and the team hat frame of mind, they can share
procedures to prevent or evade each potential thoughts and ideas. Even with all this, there
crisis; they investigate ways to respond to each appears to be an unknown entity that keeps
possible crisis; and then they actively participate most restructuring efforts from more than
in educating the rest of the employees about minimal success.
safely getting through a crisis. This could range According to Rothschild[7], Michael
from flooding, to fire, to a tornado or simply a McMaster, of the London-based consulting
shortage of help due to a flu epidemic[6, p. 34]. firm bearing his name, claims that companies
everywhere are dominated by what he terms as
“Machinespeak” language. He gives some
Total quality management – success or examples, such as: “Overhaul the division, fine-
failure tune the company, tighten controls, pump up
According to Ray Strata, chairman of Analog sales, shift gears, or balance operations”. Martin
Devices and the $567-million-a-year maker of ‘Bix’ Bickson of Seattle-based Bickson Seeton
electronic components, competitive advantage, says that “Language is the source of culture,
especially in knowledge-intensive industries, including corporate culture. Language shapes
comes from organizational learning. A survey of mindset”. Machine-type talking precludes
the 500 TQM programs implemented by US people from changing their way of thinking, and
companies shows no notable improvement. In therefore, limits what they will learn and makes
fact, Michael Hammer, advisor and teacher of them unable to change their behavior. Corpo-
TQM acknowledges that there is a 70 percent rate restructuring efforts cause the need for
failure rate. Regardless of what the statistics constant change and this collides head on with
show, companies everywhere are making some the machine-age mindset that needs stability[7,
degree of effort to switch over to the boundary- p. 19].
less organization. The problem, says Ray Strata, Rothchild also maintains the following: “As
is in the communication[7, p. 19]. the Information Age unfolds, a dizzying pace of
technological advance is forcing more and more
companies into nonstop restructuring”[7,
‘…Companies everywhere are dominated p. 20]. Frustration comes when managers dis-
by what McMaster terms as cover that no one structure provides a long-term
“Machinespeak” language…’ solution. The challenge for managers becomes
not as one of finding and installing the right
structure but as one of building an appropriate
Success or failure of any organization begins or multi-dimensional and flexible decision-making
ends with communication or the lack of it. But it process which will sense and respond to the
is an especially visible problem in the boundary- complex, diverse, and changeable demands
less organization. For example, if you are unable companies face.
to get your manufacturing department team New biological words are being looked at to
person to communicate openly with your finan- replace the machinespeak language of yesterday.
cial department team person – you are doomed. Some examples are:
“An overriding challenge is how you get market- • agility;
ing people to talk to finance people when • responsiveness;
they’ve thrown rocks at each other for decades”, • learning;
says Gerald Ross, co-founder of ChangeLab • adaptation;
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

• food chain; with some dialogue from marketing. Manufac-

• niche; turing wouldn’t get involved until the design
• cooperation; was brought into the factory. Now, all the busi-
• communication; and ness issues are right on the table from the begin-
• intelligence. ning”[2, p. 80].
Ernest W. Deavenport Jr, president of East-
As corporate people realize that they are strug-
man Chemical says, “It makes people take off
gling to survive, they will also realize that their
their organizational hats and put on their team
intelligence is what is going to bring them to the
hats. It gives people a much broader perspective
top. In other words, it is what they learn that
and forces decision making down at least anoth-
precipitates what they earn. Everyone involved
er level”[2, p. 80]. On January 1, 1994, the $3.5
must have better intelligence in order to com-
billion section of Eastman Kodak Company
municate effectively. Gerald Ross, co-founder of
stood alone. Many of its senior officers were
ChangeLab International, a consulting firm that replaced with autonomous work teams. Their
specializes in cultural transformation: “Your teams consist of all the plant managers; in place
career will be dependent on your ability to work of a head of manufacturing for example. They
across boundaries with others very different have over 1,000 teams: “It was the most dramat-
from you”[2, p. 81]. Implicitly, the companies ic change in the company’s 70-year history”,
that are the most successful have managed maintains Deavenport[2, p. 80].
drastic changes in communications on the According to Byrne[2, p. 78], some AT&T
inside. This connecting business minds causes units operate on processes and not on function.
tremendous creativity and productivity. How- Some such areas are their global communica-
ever, “Unless an organization adopts a new tions network and their maintenance. For exam-
language and mindset, one appropriate to the ple, AT&T’s Network Services Division found
fast-evolving competitive terrain of the Informa- 130 processes and narrowed them down to 13
tion Age, the company will not be able to learn processes. This division has 16,000 employees
fast enough to survive”[7, p. 20]. so this is a pretty sizable undertaking. Each of
the core processes has an owner who focusses
Business successes of the 1990s on daily routines. There is also a champion who
makes sure that the processes of the organiza-
John F. Welch Jr, chairman of General Electric tion are always intact with the plans, procedures
Company, has created the seamless company and objectives. They make their financial plans
and has cut expenses, shortened production according to processes and give employees extra
cycles and increased the company’s customer compensation according to consumer assess-
satisfaction. They have a $3 billion lighting ments.
business where nine to 12 senior team members Monte Peterson of Thermos Corporation
manage nearly 100 processes globally, from took it over in 1990 with the idea of totally
improving production to creating new com- reinventing the company. Thermos, the compa-
modities. In all situations, the objectives of the ny famous for their glass-lined thermos bottles
process are fulfilled by team members who have also sold outdoor grills, but had become run of
many skills working interchangeably with other the mill with nothing outstanding for many
like teams[2, p. 79]. years.
Paul White, president of Modicon Inc., The revolutionary change in the world
North Andover, Massachusetts, claims that by market is what caused Peterson to search for
working in teams, using assorted team hats, they drastic changes within the company. He chose
were able to cut by one-third the time from the process-driven team method in order to
launching six software packages into the public create a new space-age outdoor grill. He claims
sector. Their organization is basically functional that many companies give their team members
by structure, but they also have 30 teams which too many responsibilities. So, the members on
include 900 employees representing many his teams had one responsibility and that was
different departments. White says, “An engi- their outdoor grill project. In this way, Peterson
neering team would have worked on this alone managed to bring a dying company back to life.
Empowerment for the year 2000 and beyond Empowerment in Organizations
Nick Nykodym, Sonny S. Ariss, Jack L. Simonetti and Jean Plotner Volume 3 · Number 4 · 1995 · 36–42

Thermos revenues are up 13 percent with most after the company has been streamlined and the
of the growth coming from new products and all organization is still not working to its potential.
of it from the process-driven team method. In fact, a condensed vertical structure might be
correct for some industries. Eventually, most
Conclusion organizations will be combinations of both[2].

Because of global changes in the world market,

companies find themselves unable to compete. References
Because of this, companies are being forced to 1 Harrison, D.B. and Pratt, M., “Transforming the enter-
restructure to adapt to a rapidly changing envi- prise”, Canadian Business Review, Vol. 20, Summer,
ronment resulting from a dynamic worldwide 1993, pp. 22-5.
market; national changes involving mergers, 2 Byrne, J., “The horizontal corporation”, Business Week,
bank failures and company takeovers. Compa- No. 3351, December 20, 1993, pp. 76-83.
nies that will be around in the year 2000 will be 3 Castonguay, H., “A personal view of leadership”,
those who are able to survive downsizing by Business Quarterly, Vol. 58, Winter 1993, pp. 17-20.
promoting a leadership style which emphasizes 4 Sabo, S., “Award-winning leadership”, Association
teamwork. These companies see the global Management, Vol. 45, 1993, pp. 122-7.
challenge as one of building and maintaining a 5 Pitcher, P., “Balancing personality types at the top”,
complex decision-making process rather than of Business Quarterly, Vol. 58, Winter 1993, pp. 47-57.
finding the right formal structure. The critical 6 Greene, C., “Teaming up for success”, Association
task is to develop a new management perspec- Management, Vol. 45, July 1993, pp. 32-7, 100.
tive which entails empowering the workforce as 7 Rothschild, M., “Wanting to grow? Watch your lan-
a source of strategic advantage. Firms that take guage”, Forbes ASAP, Vol. 152, 1993, pp. 19-20.
this different perspective are often able to out-
perform their rivals successfully. However, do
not hurry to write off functional management
Further reading
altogether. No organization has completely Association Management, “CEO to CEO: A panel to answer
eliminated functional specialization; even pro- your questions”, Association Management, Vol. 45,
moters of restructuring do not foresee the end October 1993, p. 143.
of managers who are experts in manufacturing, Welch, J., “A master class in radical change”, Fortune,
finance, etc. Reengineering should only occur Vol. 128, 1993, pp. 82-4, 88, 90.