I don't reply to many of these messages, but I respond to this query on
empowerment training because it resonates with my personal interests and
I have participated in numerous exchanges on empowerment on the learning
organization network. There was a flurry back in March and April, I
believe, and a lot of interesting ideas were bantered about. I don't
recall anything particular on training and education, though there were
discussions around BECOMING empowered and whether or not one can EMPOWER
There were exchanges on components of empowerment and enabling conditions.
This theoretical debate is my primary motivation, and my courses usually
include some discussion on this aspect. In a dedicated, four-hour
session, which I presume to be as practical and applied as possible, less
theoretical discussion is necessary or particularly useful. I DO think
that some theory, principles, models, or even assumptions might be a good
starting-off place; you know, to foster DISAGREEMENT and generate some
This topic makes for a marvelously interactive learning opportunity,
because everyone has experience FEELING empowered or disempowered (or at
least witnessing those states in others). You might have to facilitate
some exchange on what it feels like to BE empowered (or its converse).
You can get lots of mileage out of having participants describe situations
in which they have experienced greater and lessor degrees of power, in as
much detail as possible, and what the consequences were.
If you have to resort to hypothetical situations (the group is
particularly dull or inexperienced in participative interactions) you can
present them, like a case study, and have participants "get into them":
speculating on what led up to the situation and what its consequences
might be. Lots of people prefer case studies and the like; they are safe:
distant and impersonal.
I prefer real-time, real-life experiential stuff. It is much more potent,
relevant, and meaningful. But requires some degree of courage and
flexibility, for both facilitators and participants. Many students and
seminar attendants have expressed their appreciation for "round-table"
discussions: where each individual presents his or her experience around
an issue. Each presentation provides the material for exchange and
deliberation. Everyone makes suggestions, which are critically considered
and modified. Participants learn from one another, which makes the
presenter's job easier in some respects, and definitely fosters a sense of
EMPOWERMENT among them: they witness their own and each other's
competence in problem solving and experience responsibility for and
ownership of the task, which, essentially, is what empowerment is all
about. You may hint at this toward the end of the session, if it's not
obvious that they "get the point."
J. Martin Hays, Ed.D.
Change Management Division
USDOT/RSPA The Volpe Center
55 Broadway, Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02142
I have a couple simple and quick questions and your input is appreciated
and extremely valuable.
If you were attending a four hour workshop on the subject of empowerment
and empowering workers in all levels of an organization, What would make
the workshop valuable to you? What would you want covered and how would
you like it presented, small groups, individual exercises etc.?
I'm in the design stage and I couldn't think of a better group of people
to ask for input.
Thank you in advance.
"Hays, Joe" <HAYS@volpe1.dot.gov>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>