Skip to main content

Process Improvement: Delegation v Abdication

Delegation and abdication are two words that often get confused when it comes to effective management. 

When a process has been improved, there is always an ongoing need to manage the process (delegation). Just walking away and hoping everything is fine is fatal (abdication!)

Why is this distinction so important?

One of my clients certainly fell into the abdication category. Once their new computer system was in place, the management team considered the job done. They turned their attention to new, more pressing issues. They effectively washed their hands of the project. 
I was called in to help when the company found itself struggling with delivery performance. It was clear that the people running the system were experiencing problems but the management team had no way to measure this. I implemented Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and instigated Sunrise meetings. These daily gatherings helped the management team to get on top of their issues.

Another client, however, did the corrective work up front.  The management team realised that, once I’d finished the initial change project, they couldn't just walk away. Attention was paid, performance measured. As a result, the system didn't fall over or people get de-motivated. Performance improved, right from day one.  

With both clients featured in this blog post, there were the same basic ingredients: Medium sized manufacturing businesses, in similar markets, undertaking similar projects (both were implementing ERP systems.) Their staff too, were similar in many respects. 

The difference was in the approach to managing change, once the initial project had been completed.
The contrast between ‘abdication’ and ‘delegation’ is not too dissimilar to cruise control on a car. You’ve probably heard stories of people who switch on cruise control and then expect the car to drive itself. It doesn’t, it crashes! 
When you operate cruise control, you still need to watch the roads, steer the car and brake. Similarly, having implemented a new business process, it is important to ensure that you are delegating and not abdicating responsibility. 

Done correctly, delegated processes can be measured and managed in a short period of time, still allowing you to focus on your other management priorities.

Delegation or Abdication - choose wisely!


Giles Johnston
...optimising MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Popular posts from this blog

Stop firefighting, start performing!

Another weeks passes and another example of unnecessary fire fighting demonstrated by a business I have been to help. If you have this taking place in your business, let me ask you a few questions: 1. What keeps on happening? Regain control with this practical book Can you pin down what it is that you keep having to do, to get out of trouble? If you can't, is there a pattern you can observe? 2. Do you want it to stop? Is it causing you enough of a problem that you want it to stop? If the answer is yes, keep reading, if not park it for another day. 3. Find out what is going on Do you know why you are having this issue? If you aren't sure where the issue is arising from, then take a few minutes to have a look around. When you have some idea, go to the next step. 4. Cause and effect Do you know what is truly causing the fire fighting situation? If you spend the time to get to the root cause of the situation , you have a good chance of permanently eliminating this situation. Most p

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Are your teams clear?

I have recently finished working with a team that were struggling. They were struggling to meet their production schedules. They were struggling to respond to customer enquiries on time. They were burnt out and frazzled. After some prodding and poking it became clear what their issues were. In particular, it became obvious that expectations of the team weren't clear or defined. Defining what you expect from teams is a standard management approach. The problem with most teams is that leadership describe the standards in vague terms . So, what happens if you get the standards crystal clear? You should expect to see the team produce the right outputs. They should produce the outputs at the right time. And, they should produce them in an agreed way. Be clear with your teams. Ask the question: What does good look like? If you want to get some more ideas on how to define effective standards and visions, get your copy of my book today . What does good look like? is a practical guide to h