“Drive-By Delegation”

I just read a great email written by Tellman Knudson.

In it, he describes what he calls “Drive-By Delegation.”

Perhaps you’re familiar with it…it’s what happens when you “delegate,” but either the task doesn’t get done at all, it doesn’t get done the way you wanted it to be done, or the “doer” asks you so many questions, that you realize it would be quicker to do it yourself.

Ring a bell?

Tellman uses the example of asking someone to move the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer as you’re walking to answer the phone.

“Sure,” responds the person you ask.

Yet, when you check on the laundry 1/2 hour before you need to leave the house to meet your boss for dinner, you find that half of it is still damp, and the wool blazer that you wanted hung up to dry has shrunk to half its size.

Did you delegate the job? Yes, you did.

Did it get done? Yes, it did.

Did it get done the way you wanted it to be done? No.

But…and this is important…it DID get done the way you asked for it to be done. No more, no less.

Now, imagine the difference in outcome if you took a few extra seconds to explain that you need the laundry dry by 6:00 because you’re leaving at 6:30 to meet your boss for dinner, and there’s a brown wool jacket in the washer that needs to be hung on a hanger and then hung outside to dry. You might add, “and give me a shout when you’ve got it done.”

Think your results will be different?

You bet they will!

So next time, take an extra minute or so to consider the outcome that you want. Think about what you need to communicate to your “doer” to get the job done on time and accurately, and then be sure to convey your ideas.

You’ll be glad you did, and so will they!


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