Empowerment is a red herring

The following is a quote from Harrison Owen on the World wide Open Space Technology email list October 14, 2014.

”I know we talk a lot about empowerment, but I have come to the conclusion that it is really a red herring, and most painfully so in those situations where you actually try to do it. Sounds odd, I guess, but think about it. If I empower you … you are in my power. And the more I try to empower you the worse it gets.

Real empowerment … is not an act that we (or somebody) do, but an acknowledgement of a pre-existing condition … you are powerful. Of course I might encourage you a bit to be as powerful as you are, but it is not something I can give you. You must claim it for yourself. Strange as it may seem, I find the notion of “empowerment” to be just the opposite of that fundament of effective working relationships (or any relationship) RESPECT.”

Related posts:
Pre-conditions for self-organization
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

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