Can You Afford To Abdicate?

Abdication cost New York City more than $700 million for one project.  How much could abdication cost you? New York City’s Department of Investigations (DOI) released a report late last week about the $1.3 billion (original estimate) project to overhaul the NYC 911 emergency dispatch system.  The report, which is highly critical of the administration of former mayor Michael Bloomberg, contains the following sentence: “Bluntly, the most senior members of the administration simply failed to pay attention.” Further, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said the city “paid a huge amount of money to a bunch of contractors and assumed (for a quick laugh regarding assumed see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfvTwv5o1Qs ) they’d get it right … in 2004, we say it’ll cost $1.3 billion and it’ll be done in 2007.  In fact, it’s going to cost more than $2 billion, and it’s not going to be done until 2017.” I noticed the following evidence of abdication, rather than effective delegation:
  • “The city relied excessively on outside consultants and failed to adequately monitor progress.” Simply setting things in motion without proper follow up and metrics is Abdication.
  • Whatever follow ups and measurements that were in place may not have been on an appropriate schedule – Abdication.
  • “An inordinate amount of time” on paperwork “detracted from the ability of staff” to do their jobs. Having ineffective reports and paperwork amounts to Abdication with a false sense of security.
So the primary question is, what are you abdicating in your business, and what could that cost you?  Obviously, your budget is not the size of NYC’s ($76.9 billion for fiscal 2015).  However, in proportion, your lack of effectively delegating key projects or ongoing operational tasks has the potential to do way more damage to your business.  The cost in lost profit, customers and opportunity could be enormous, if not fatal.   This is another installment in my ongoing series about the art and science of successful, effective delegation.

Effective Delegation vs. Abdication – Part 4

As part of my on-going series about the art and science of effective delegation, I will discuss two topics in this blog; The prerequisites of effective delegation and how to prepare to delegate. The Key Prerequisites Of Effective Delegation There are a number of essential items you should address before delegating a particular responsibility or task:
  • Delegation Plan – As is the case in many business projects, planning is a key element of success. Therefore, you must have a delegation plan.  This plan should include:
    • What is to be delegated – a clear description of the task or responsibility you are going to delegate
    • Who is this item going to be delegated to – not only who, but you will need to have a clear understanding of why the recipient is the ideal person (or team) to accomplish your goal
    • Definition of Success – have a clear understanding of what your expected result will be, and be able to clearly communicate this definition of success
    • Metrics – know how you are going to measure progress toward success
    • Time frame – is the item to be delegated on-going or finite
    • Follow up – know how often are you going to check on progress toward success
  • The Why – You must have a clear understanding of why you are delegating the item. Your why may include some of the following:
    • You do not have the necessary skills
    • You do not like the task to be delegated
    • Someone on your team (either internal or external) has more experience or professional training
    • The item is not the most effective use of your time and attention
  • The Item Must Be Something That Can Be Delegated – Simply put, if you are the surgeon, you must do the surgery. On the other hand, if you are the surgeon, you will certainly delegate the anesthesia.  It is counterproductive to delegate something that only you can accomplish AND is core to the success of your business
  Preparing To Delegate Not unlike real estate, effective delegation has three very important items you must have in order to delegate:
  1. Communicate the responsibility or task to be delegated – know exactly how you are going to define what you expect
  2. Communicate the definition of success – know exactly how you are going to define and measure success
  3. Communicate the bigger picture – know how you are place the delegated item into the context of the businesses success and mission
Unlike real estate there is a fourth important item you must be prepared to do in order to have effective delegation, not abdication – you MUST be prepared to not take the item back if it is being accomplished but not exactly as you would accomplish it.  As long as it is moving forward, you must be prepared to LET IT GO!