Control or Flexibility? Structured Empowerment Offers Both - Lessons from Retail & Service Chains
This note explains how several retail and service organizations use a practice described here as "structured empowerment" to balance control and flexibility as they grow. I define structured empowerment as a practice that grants employees both (a) the power to make choices from narrow sets of options on a set of inputs and processes and (b) the responsibility to deliver results according to the company's value proposition. This lets a company control operations-by standardizing the options frontline employees can choose from to drive results-and adapt to diverse markets-because combining choices from the options makes a large number of service offerings and routine sequences possible.