Empowering the Heroes in Your Organization

What would it take to turn more of your organization’s employees into heroes?

That’s the question posed and addressed by Forrester Research analysts Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler in their new book Empowered. They are encouraging you to “unleash your employees, energize your customers and transform your business.” They insist the way to do this is to give your people the tools and freedom they need to engage in exceptional work.

Clearly, there are important implications here with respect to the availability of collaborative technologies — the social tools that are now raising such concerns in IT and PR departments at many organizations.

HERO, as the authors explain it, is an acronym for a “highly empowered and resourceful operative.” They identified such individuals through a survey that asked two key questions:   

  • How empowered are you? They asked these workers if they agreed with the statement “I feel empowered to solve my own problems and challenges at work.” They then measured the respondent on a ten-point scale.
  • How resourceful are you? In this case, they asked about the individual’s resourcefulness with technology. Specifically, they wanted to know whether that person had regularly used two applications or Web sites unsanctioned by their IT department (such as Linked-In or Twitter).

What they discovered is a division between those who are empowered and those who aren’t.


HEROes, as the findings suggest, come from the 20% of people in your company that are both empowered and resourceful. But 34% of such information workers are considered to be Locked-Down — ready to help, but unable to use the apps necessary to perform. Meanwhile, 13% have gone Rogue. They’ve download unsanctioned apps or accessed unsanctioned sites, but don’t feel empowered to create change. Still another 34% are Disenfranchised. These are folks that neither feel empowered nor act resourceful.

How can you make a difference? According to the authors, “It’s all about culture. First, you (and your IT department) need to make it possible for people to use the innovative technologies they’ll need to reach out to customers — relaxing the rules for what technology use is permitted at work is a first step in this direction. As for empowering workers, it starts at the bottom, by identifying people who are innovating, supporting them, and then shouting to the rest of the company about what they’ve done. This is how management can make more HEROes possible.”


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