Developing people through decision-making
A npower case study

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Page 5: Operational decisions

Operational decisions occur on a daily basis and are made considering the risk to the business. Often these decisions are administrative in nature and can be implemented quickly and tend to carry little risk. At RWE npower, employees at every level take operational decisions daily. An example might be when to re-order a particular item of stock. Another could be to determine how many operative staff will be required to complete a task.

Operational adminstrative decisions may be smaller-scale, but are nevertheless important choices that people have to make to fulfil their roles. As RWE npower employees work in an open culture, where there is exchange of information and mutual trust, they feel empowered to take decisions. This sense of empowerment means that the organisation benefits from speed of decision. Open lines of communication encourage free flow of accurate information. Together, these things lead to better, informed decision-making at all levels.


In all levels in a business, there are constraints on decision-making. Jay for instance cannot decide to make an unlimited financial investment in the Spares Project. There may also be technical reasons why an action is not advisable. Constraints on decision-making are sometimes organisational. Some people at some levels cannot have authority to decide because they lack the knowledge or skills. At other times there are economic, political, environmental or legal constraints.

The culture of trust in RWE npower means that even at the operational level, staff can propose to make changes to how they do their job. The over-arching constraint is that such decisions must be in line with company aims and objectives. At an operational level, decisions must support the strategic direction of the business. All job roles carry specific responsibilities. At RWE npower, decision-making powers are delegated throughout the organisation. This means that people do not necessarily have to await a decision from a higher level. For example, an engineer dealing with an equipment fault is able to decide what is wrong and how to put it right without necessarily seeking authority from a manager. In this way, tasks can be completed more quickly and efficiently which is better for the business and the customer.

npower | Developing people through decision-making