Friday, March 02, 2007

On Delegation

As a follow up to the octopus metaphor, which I was not too happy about, I thought I would talk a little more about delegation.

So much of what we are is based on what we have done and experienced. In my earlier days of entreprenuerism, was very independent. By independent, I mean that I did all the work myself. It comes from hearing my Dad say all his life "if you want something done right, do it yourself". I guess that stuck with me.

Doing it yourself is a great way to learn the ropes, however, at some point you reach diminishing returns. You cannot possibly be the best person to do everything. There are some people who are simply better at things than you are. Delegating tasks to contractors, engineers and other professionals frees me up to do what I can do best.

Of course, this is not without it's costs. Delegating to others involves paying them. When I put together my business plans, I look at the areas that I am going to be delegating and I double whatever the costs are that I expect. This is just my rule of thumb.

The big rule in delegation is that although you don't need to do the work, you are still held accountable for what gets done. So it is important to watch the job closely and follow up on every assigned task.

When I delegate or hire a pro to do the work, I make it clear that I am only paying for the result. If they screw up and have to do the work twice, I should not have to pay them for the repeated work. Likewise, if they are learning as they go, that too should not be on my dime. Of course, there is a gray area here as well. Getting an engineer to understand this requires some work. Some only want to be paid for the time they are doing the work and not for the results. But it is the results that add value, not the hours put into the effort.