Thursday, July 19, 2012

What part of delegation do you not understand?

"...He only does what only he should do"

The utter simplicity of this thought is its power: "He only does what only he should do". What else is there?

But, though simple as it is, this statement is a source of constant frustration to those being micro-managed. Why can't "he" (and, not to leave out 'she') just go away and let us get our job done? Perhaps he/she doesn't have enough to do, or worse: he/she doesn't know what to do.

Maybe we should make it more complicated so that "he" will pay more attention. Let's cite the Principle of Subsidiarity :

It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry

The 'community' in this case is the project office and the project manager; or the portfolio office and manager. Or worse: the project sponsor and (aghast!) the stakeholders. (Who among us wants to managed by the stakeholders? ... barbarians at the gate, to be sure!)

Here's the general idea and criteria of 'good' un-delegation:
  • The action (un-delegation) must be necessary because actions of individuals or teams alone will not achieve the objectives of the action (the sufficiency criterion)
  • The action must bring added value over and above what could be achieved by individual or teams alone (the benefit criterion).
  • Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the project team or individual (the close to the individual criterion)
  • The action should secure greater freedoms for the individual (the autonomy criterion).

Sufficiency, benefit, closeness, and autonomy: Words to delegate by!