Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Quality, Productivity, and Employee Satisfaction

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Quality, Productivity, and Employee Satisfaction

by William Byham, Jeff Cox (With)

Paperback(Revised Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449002827
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1997
Edition description: Revised Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 32,390
Product dimensions: 5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

William C. Byham, PhD, is president and cofounder of Development Dimensions International (DDI), which specializes in aligning clients’ people strategies with their business strategies. He is an internationally renowned speaker and has received numerous awards and citations, including Entrepreneur of the Year (1994) and CEO Communicator of the Year (1996). Byham lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jeff Cox is the author of 20 books, has hosted two TV series, and was managing editor of Organic Gardening magazine for more than a decade. He lives in Sonoma County, California.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Once upon a time, in a magic land called America, there lived a normal guy named Ralph Rosco.

Ralph worked in Dept N of the Normal Company in Normalburg, U.S.A. For years, Normal had been a leading manufacturer of normalators, those amazing devices that are so fundamental to society as we know it.

As you might expect, just about everything was normal at Normal, including the understanding of who was normally supposed to do what:

  • Managers did the thinking
  • Supervisors did the talking
  • And employees did the doing

That was the way it had always been-ever since Norman Normal had invented the normalator and founded the company-and so everybody just assumed that was the way it should always be.

Ralph was your normal type of employee. He came to work. He did the jobs his supervisor told him to do. And at the end of the day, he dragged himself home to get ready to do it all again.

When friends or family asked him how he liked his work, Ralph would say, "Oh, it's all right, I guess. Not very exciting, but I guess that's normal. Anyway, it's a Job and the pay is OK."

In truth, working for the Normal Company was not very satisfying for Ralph, though he was not sure why. The pay was more than OK; it was good. The benefits were fine. The working conditions were safe. Yet something seemed to be missing.

But Ralph figured there wasn't much he could do to change things at Normal. After all, he reasoned, who would even bother to listen? So at work he kept his thoughts to himself, and just did what he was told.

Ralph worked on a subsystem of what was technically termed "the guts" of the Normal normalator. One day on his way back from lunch, Ralph happened to be thinking about the guts of the normalator, and-well, he was simply ZAPPED by an idea so original and so full of promise that his head nearly exploded with excitement.

"Wowee! Zowee! Yeah!!!" exclaimed Ralph-to the shock of the Normal employees around him.

In his excitement, Ralph totally forgot that probably nobody would listen, and he ran down the hall to explain his idea to his supervisor, Joe Mode.

Ralph found Joe Mode busy doing what Joe normally did. He was telling everybody what to do as he worried about each of the 167 rush jobs that had to be done by the end of the day, as he added some figures together, while he scribbled a memo in the middle of taking an urgent call from his boss, Mary Ellen Krabofski.

"Mode, I want you to start cracking the whip down there," Krabofski was telling him.

"But I do crack the whip," Joe said. "Every chance I get."

"Well, whatever you're doing, it's not good enough. All the big bosses are pacing in their offices. They say the competition is stiff and getting stiffer. Sales are low and getting lower. Profits are thin and getting thinner. So you'd better do something quick, or else!"

"But what can I do?" Joe asked in desperation.

"Raise that productivity, Mode! Cut those costs! Boost that quality! And, above all, do not let your efficiencies slip!"

"Right, got it," said Joe.

"Then get to it!"

And they both hung up. That was when Joe saw Ralph standing off to the side eagerly waiting to talk about his idea.

"So, talk," said Mode.

Ralph explained his idea, which was so original and full of promise, as Joe continued doing everything he was already doing.

"But that isn't what I gave you to work on," said Joe. "How are you coming with that rush job you're supposed to have done by the end of the day?"

"OK, I'll finish it. But what about my idea?" asked Ralph.

"It doesn't sound to me like the Normal way to do things, "said Joe.
"And don't you think if that idea is good, the Normal R&D people would have thought of it? But, tell you what, when I get time, I'll kick it upstairs and we'll see what happens. Maybe they'll form a task force to look into it."

At that moment, Ralph was tempted to tell Joe that he didn't want his idea to be kicked anywhere by anybody, and that furthermore...

But being normal, Ralph didn't tell Joe anything. He just nodded, and went back to work-and Joe went back to telling everybody what to do and worrying about the 167 rush jobs that had to get done.

By the end of the day, Ralph somehow had managed not to finish the job Joe needed. He left it and bolted for the parking lot with the others. And Joe, with a sense of defeat, sat down at his desk and worried about Mary Ellen Krabofski.


Why Should You Read This Book?

That's a fair question. Why should a serious, rational adult in business today take time to read a fable about the troubles and triumphs of workers in a make-believe department headed by a guy named Joe Mode? Frankly, your own career is one good reason for reading Zapp!. The success and survival of the organization you work for is another.

To do business in the markets of the early 21st century, one win face constant change, new technology, evolving organizational structures, and "stretch" goals for performance. Zapp! is a book for the '90s and the new millenium. Its lessons are even more vital for leaders today than when it was first published in 1988. Zapp! has sold more than 4.5 million copies and is available in 10 languages. The importance of its message is demonstrated by the hundreds of organizations that have adopted Zapp! for distribution to all their managers and supervisors. More and more in years to come, the successful organizations will be the ones best able to energize individuals to embrace the changes they face.

Creating human energy is what Zapp! is about. It deals with the basic principles of empowering people, of helping employees take ownership of their jobs so that they take personal interest in improving the performance of the organization. This book can help you understand on a fundamental, practical level what empowerment really is, why it is important, and how to start using its key principles on the job.

Why did we write the book in the style of a fable? Because even the best ideas are of small value unless communicated well. Zapp! is written the way it is so that wecould take an abstract concept and let people visualize it in action, and in lively but meaningful terms. We wanted the book to be easy to understand, but challenging to the imagination.

There are two ways to read the book. Most people will find the story amusing and will probably finish this book in one or two sittings. But if you're in a hurry, skim through the sections called "Joe Mode's Notebook." These summarize the essence of the book and outline the basic principles of empowerment. The better way, however, is to read the story, which lets you discover the ideas, and try to deduce the conclusions as you go along.

Fable or not, this is a realistic, practical book. We expect that after you have read Zapp!, you will have the knowledge to start putting the underlying ideas to work and a basis for beginning formal training in empowerment skills and related areas. So we hope you enjoy Zapp! and, more important, that you learn about what has become a concept vital to personal and organizational success.

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