Empowerment Quadrant Tool

panel Last week at our regular Lean &  Agile discussion group, I was introduced to a quadrant tool, used to gage how in control team members are feeling.  There are some similarities between this, and the Cynefin leadership framework, but it is supposed to be used in a single context (‘Complicated’), I believe.

  1. Robot: The feeling that one’s work is being micromanaged, is too controlled, or is too repetitive.  The remedies are to take on more work (moving over to Chocolate Factory), or to increase the amount of latitude and empowerment.
  2. Chocolate Factory:  This comes from the I Love Lucy Chocolate factory episode, where they are wrapping chocolates on a conveyer-belt that is running too fast for them to keep up.  It is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the process and by the work.  The remedies are to simplify and slow down, in order to move to a more comfortable, repeatable mode of working – towards the robot,  Alternatively, to increase empowerment and control over the work.  This would move the situation to Lean), and would lead to being more effective.
  3. Chaos.  Taken from the Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’ sales, where crowds of people mob stores in search of the best deals.  It is a chaotic state of everyone for themselves, in a state of disorder.  The remedy is to either to introduce more process, and moving to Lean, or to decrease the amount of latitude by imposing directive control, moving closer to Robot.
  4. Lean.  This is the ideal, effective state.  There is a degree of empowerment and autonomy, and the work is under control.  Mastery of work, purpose, and autonomy are in harmony, and the result is a state of high motivation and performance.  Process and individual empowerment are ideally balanced.Process-Control-Quadrant


Paul Osborn

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