Chapter 19 touched on the idea of “empowerment” being a measure for quality in the Learning & Growth perspective of the Balanced Scorecard.  Fittingly, I came across a post made by the head of Royal Caribbean discussing empowerment and quality in the cruise industry.

http://www.nationofwhynot.com/blog/?p=227

Having experienced the empowerment of Royal Caribbean employees on several past cruises I can certainly say that Royal Caribbean is 2nd to none when it comes to empowering employees throughout the organization to do right by the customer. Everyone from the cruise director to the guest relations staff to the assistant waiter in the dining room is allowed and encouraged to make every effort to please the customers.  This is evident in everything they do and it is what makes a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation so special and enjoyable, in my opinion.  Usually after a cruise the thing that I share with everyone is not the sights or the weather, but rather the staff and high level of service I experienced onboard the ship.

As to the question posted by about if empowerment is something that is granted vs. is it something you feel, my sense is that both need to be present for an organization and its people to excel.  Someone can “feel empowered” but not for very long if they aren’t granted the permission to act upon that feeling.  Spirits are crushed easily and employees that desire empowerment/responsibility will leave a company that does not allow them to act upon that desire.

Also, someone can be granted permission to be empowered but if they don’t feel empowered (perhaps a clash of unwritten vs. written policy or just their nature) then they will not exhibit empowered behavior.

Great people and a supportive culture need to come together for empowered behavior to be the norm and for a company, such as Royal Caribbean, to gain a reputation for empowerment.  Companies that do so can trade on that reputation of high-quality service and have to guard against anything negative from destroying all that they have built-up.