Secrets of Effective Delegation - Monitoring W3s
If you don't know what a W3 is then please start at delegation
secrets 1. If you already ready that article, then you'll know that
W3s are a great crisp yet complete way of capturing the three essential
of a delegated task:
- What exactly is the task being delegated, described in completion language
- When that task is due for completion
- Who carries the responsibility for completing that task to that deadline
W3s are great - don't leave home without them. But don't expect
them to single-handedly change your organisation either. As mathematicians
sometimes say, they're
"necessary but not sufficient". In other words, you need them
- but you need other things too.
If A Tree in a Wood Falls Down...
A W3 - written down, is no good if no-one reads it. A W3 is no good if the
owner reads it, smiles and carries on with important Facebook duties.
W3s are only useful if they are understood, accepted, respected, reviewed
and maintained, and that's what this article is about.
Changing Corporate Cultures
What we're talking about is no less than changing corporate cultures, and
that can only be done very carefully. Let's look at some common scenarios.
Mostly, attempts to change things end fairly quickly
in a slump back into the old regime. Employees see management initiatives
of the month" - to be nodded at and forgotten.
With each repetition
of this cycle, credibility in the possibility of change is damaged,
resistance becomes endemic and organisations become rigid, brittle,
and finally - outside competition from more flexible organisations
smashes them into dust.
So, you've introduced W3s, and you're at the top
of the steep part of the curve - doing it The New Way - and
you will want to avoid the slump back down to casual
disregard for commitments and deadlines.
You do this by focusing
hard and often on the new ways, immediately after the change,
and for a time afterwards. Where shortfalls happen, they must be
noticed and addressed,
as it becomes clear that the old way will no longer be
tolerated, intervention points can be less frequent and a new culture
So what does this mean for you and your team at work each day? Well, the
exact implications will vary depending on your organisation and its current
cultural level, but it will mean most of the following things:
- Delegated tasks are always expressed as W3s.
Where W-s. W1s, or W2s are found, they are pounced on and corrected by the
team leader initially,
and later by all team members as people recognise that this is nothing
more than common sense - whose absence is simply daft.
- A W3 format is universally adopted within the team. It
could be a three-column table or a three-line bullet or a three field
table in Access or Excel, but W3s become institutionalised in a common
format whose presence or absence is instantly recognisable. As we'll
see, you'll actually need more than three columns when working with real
- W3s form a central part of organisational reporting.
In written reports to superiors and external groups, W3s form the basic
statements of intent and responsibilities. They are aggregated and perhaps
abbreviated as they move up the organisational pyramid. In progress meetings,
W3s are presented, respected and commented upon. Personal responsibility
for making W3s what happen is universal.
- W3s form a central tool for management of project plans. W3s
may form the raw material for injection into PERT charts or other project
scheduling systems. Missed W3s ("slips") are recorded and counted; a
history is maintained. AN escalation procedure is used when W3s look
vulnerable and when they fail.
- W3s form a central part of performance reviewing. In
job specs, maintenance of high quality W3s is stated as an essential
requirement. In performance reviews W3s are on the table, being discussed.
Badly maintained W3s will be documented at performance reviews.
In the real-working-world, W3s will be a little more complex:
||Publish delegation article 2 about W3 monitoring
- The What is written in "completion language". I have specified that real
end-point I care about - not some interim step which isn't quite completion.
So, I didn't say "Work on ... article" - because that could go on forever.
Nor did I say "Complete ... article" - because it's not the article's
completion I care about, it's the publication; also - publication is
an event which either happened or didn't - whereas completion is up for
argument. Was it spell-checked? Did it contain X, Y and Z?
- The current When is when we currently expect it to be done. This
changes in light of events, but whenever presented, should always be
the real, current plan - and therefore - never in the past.
- The original When is kept as a record of the original plan and
how far things have slid.
- Slip count is how many times a deadline has been moved.
- Notes will explain points of interest in the plan which are not otherwise
If all of that sounds draconian, dictatorial or unfriendly, then try to see
W3s in context in the workplace.
In a well-led team, W3s will have been
jointly agreed by their owner and their manager. Both will have contributed
and both will be happy with the current plan.
Slipped deadlines are not synonymous with incompetence or panic - though
they will always be of interest. There are all kinds of reasons why things
don't go to plan. Organisations should learn from those experiences, and
organisational and individual improvement opportunities will arise.
W3s should take their place in Common Sense Organisations, along with teamwork,
mutual respect, empowerment, having fun, growing personally and organisationally,
doing great things, and making money.
People who want to do well, will thrive in efficient, effective meritocracies.
People who don't may prefer the public sector.
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