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Unearthing buried treasure

John E. Davis (Area Director, Kent County Council Social Services Department, Tonbridge, UK)
Brenda A. Stocking ( Organization Development Manager, Mid Kent Area, Kent Social Services, Tonbridge, UK)

Empowerment in Organizations

ISSN: 0968-4891

Article publication date: 1 June 1996



Mid Kent Area is part of Kent County Council Social Services Department. In 1993, its managers asked if a typical local authority bureaucracy was a suitable organization from which to provide the quality, customer responsive services espoused in recent public service legislation and government guidelines. They shared their concerns with staff, and the “Towards Excellence!” programme is a direct response to those discussions. Relates how staff enthusiastically identified the disempowering characteristics of the organization, throwing down the gauntlet for change. In response all staff agreed on a statement of the area’s overriding purpose, established a communication charter giving rights to essential information, received vitalizing feedback on their performance, and released a flood of creativity and innovation. The principles of a learning organization, reflected in responsiveness to customers and in the continual development of staff, have made a dramatic impact. Outlines the processes employed, as well as some of the unintended consequences of this approach.



Davis, J.E. and Stocking, B.A. (1996), "Unearthing buried treasure", Empowerment in Organizations, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 8-15.




Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited