In his newsletter, my friend Brian Remer wrote  a book review and posted up some of his thinking about change and choice.

And, in my sometimes strange way of viewing the way the world seems to work, this generated a reaction that I thought might be useful enough to post up in the blog.

Brian did a clear review of Kent Greenfield’s book, The Myth of Choice, discussing how choice is influenced by a lot cultural factors including:

  • Acknowledging the power of situation and circumstance in making choices
  • Acknowledging our limitations and “irrational” tendencies – We are more likely to make choices in favor of opinions that match and reinforce our own beliefs.
  • Becoming mindful of our habits – We can make considered choices rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated by routinized behaviors.
  • Developing an awareness of cultural influences – Understanding the effect of culture frees us to better choose whether to act within cultural norms or to challenge them.

Later in his newsletter, Brian writes on the theme of Choice and Empowerment, stating in part that, “These examples illustrate that people need more than experience to make good choices. They need the authority, resources, and information to act on their decisions. This is the essence of empowerment. If you are not offering choices, you can stay in control. If you do offer choices but don’t share authority, resources, and information, you can still stay in control.”

And the paradox of the juxtapositioning of these two things — empowerment and choice — was just funny to me.

I do NOT believe in the reality of any concept of “Empowerment” as something that we can do to others, as the concept is commonly framed. I think Brian gets at this a bit, but not as cleanly and clearly as he commonly writes.

Most people seem to make a choice of being UN-empowered in that they let things get into the way of getting things done. Many people might think of me as being empowered for a bunch of reasons, but I know that I am un-empowered in many ways. There are a lot of Square Wheels that happen in my business and personal life. There are lots of things that get in the way of getting things done.

I guess that is one of the reasons that so many people rely on executive coaches, since they are “empowered” to push and cajol us into doing things.

Managers can empower the un-empowered
by helping to remove the roadblocks.

In my simple view of this world, this is called DIS-un-empowerment.

I’ve written a bunch of things around this concept that you can read elsewhere. Google “dis-un-empowerment” to see a variety of things.

But a LOT of this stuff about people and performance is about choice!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

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