Releasing the talents of employees
An ICI case study

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Page 6: Conclusion

Ici 2 Image 5Today, businesses like ICI are based on shared interests of stakeholders. Stakeholders include managers, employees, the customers, the community, and of course, the shareholder. It is clear that each of these groups will gain enormously from the success of team operations at ground level. In concluding this case study, therefore, it is helpful to see how shareholders at ICI benefit from the empowerment process.

Shareholders require a return on their investment in the company, which more than covers the perceived risk of share holding. In recent years, ICI has been setting a target of a return for shareholders on the business as a whole of over 20%, which would be a good return for the sector in which ICI operates. Although it has not yet reached its target; ICI has been able to create shareholder value by producing improved products and service, which has enabled the company to increase its market share. Creating shareholder value on the factory floor has involved seeking ways of streamlining the existing base, so as to create better returns. By releasing the talents of existing employees through empowerment, it has been possible to create increased productivity, without necessarily having to increase the physical resources of the company. Instead, it has been the human resource which has been the driving force for improvement. The approach has involved placing a high degree of ownership of production processes in the hands of a work team. Individuals are selected and trained to work as team members. These individuals are then expected to work in a flexible way within their work roles and to accept considerable responsibility.

The work teams are expected to work hard and to perform to tight schedules, requiring considerable commitment to work, to the team and to the organisation. Such an approach can only be successful if teams have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. ICI has therefore been working hard to clarify the relationship between its centre and the individual operating units. Increasingly, operating units have been given responsibility for managing their own budgets, allocating their own costs and assessing their own profitability. The emphasis is on local management and local responsibility. At the same time individual plants allocate responsibilities to operating teams and teams to team members. This creates a much higher level of accountability and responsibility. By giving individuals responsibility for their work, they are better placed to say 'this is what I have achieved using my own initiative.' It is an approach to work which has proved to be tremendously motivating and satisfying for employees throughout the ICI organisation.

ICI | Releasing the talents of employees