Thursday, 26 May 2011

Empowering people

Page 31

- After a certain size a heavily-centralised culture can lose touch with costumers (because the power source is no longer able to stay close to them) and can find itself having increasing difficulty simply running the new, larger organisation since formal systems are few and communication has tended to be informal rather than planned and controlled.

- Individuals within the organisation who may have thrived in the slightly piratical style of culture may have great difficulty adapting to the need for more formal and systematic management.

- At this stage, such organisations typically 'die', either by collapse or take-over.

- They can be heady, exciting places to work for those at or near the centre, but they seldom make much use of the talents, skills and knowledge of the rest of the workforce, including less senior managers.

- Such organisations offer little power to anyone but those at the hub.

- That's one reason, perhaps, that they typically fail to survive in this form for very long.

- A rare EXCEPTION to this rule seems to be the Virgin empire headed by Richard Branson. Here, it would seem, is a typically entrepreneurial, charismatic founder who developed a multi-billion-pound business from a standing start to the point where it is able to see off such long-established rivals as British Airways.

- Yet this picture would be misleading.

- Richard Branson has achieved this feat by deliberately not allowing any individual business venture to grow beyond a certain size.

- Once any of his companies has grown large enough to stand on its own feet, he hives it off as a separate venture, complete with its own largely autonomous management team.

- In this way he empowers not individuals but companies and their managers, who are charged simply with getting on with the job running the company as they see fit provided they meet some broad corporate goals and objectives.

Source: Stewart, A. M. (1994). Empowering People. Glasgow: Pitman Publishing.

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