by Mark Chillingworth

Book review: Empowered

Mar 20, 2011
CareersIT Leadership

Empowered Unleash your Employees, Energise your Customers and Transform Your Business By Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler (Havard Business Review Press)

“Does exactly what it says on the tin” might have become an annoying cliché, but it’s a perfect description for Empowered, an essential guide to empowering your staff and customers which will then lead to business transformation in the most positive sense.

The insight into how to empower staff was the most rewarding part of this book from Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff, who co-authored Groundswell, the business and technology thought leadership book.

Like many CIOs, as the leader of a small team I like to feel I have a team that is focused on its role and feels it can take responsibility for its actions and deliver results, which leaves me to focus on the transformation half of the game.

For those of us who have risen through the ranks by creating products and delivering real results rather than by being career managers, it’s a difficult role-change.

Bernoff and Schadler essentially say that if your organisation wants to transform and make the most of the innovative opportunities available through technology then it is your staff who must lead the innovation as they understand the technology better than you do.

In short, Empowered is your 252-page guide to managing Generation Y.

Heroes within Bernoff and Schadler describe this taskforce within your organisation as Heroes — Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives.

Heroes it seems are not merely gadget-toting agents who are at home with Facebook, iPhones, iPads, Twitter and YouTube: your organisation needs to understand these platforms and needs the Heroes to lead the way.

Some people in your organisation will fear these Web platforms, but as the authors point out there is more damage to be done to your company by not engaging with these platforms than from doing so.

Using real-life examples they demonstrate that it’s by empowering your workforce that your organisation will make the most of these platforms and won’t appear like some controlling government body. Customer services and contact have the most to gain and lose on sites like Twitter.

This book raises points that C-suiters may find challenging. It does call on them to shake off a certain amount of control, but as the authors point out, by empowering staff you will in fact have more control over what really matters: the perception and the performance of your organisation.