Every year the company issued a staff empowerment survey. It was a directive from head office. It took about three months to crunch the data and return results to departments; local action plans followed; every year the same cycle.

In one department, they recognised that this effort wasn’t resulting in real changes.

They had learned about the impact of system conditions on performance and had found, through studying their own work, that useful things could be done that were within their control to drive improvement.

The feeling of ‘empowerment’ was a natural consequence. Something engendered by studying their own work, not doing a survey.