Figure depicting various delegation poker cards.

© 2013 Jurgen Appelo


Delegation is not easy. Managers often fear a loss of control when considering allowing teams to self-organize, and creative workers sometimes don't know how to self-organize. A delegation board enables management to clarify delegation and to foster empowerment for both management and workers.

I once went horseback riding on a mountain in Chile. The trip lasted four hours and a guide led four tourists, including me, through an Andean forest. During our ascent of the tree-covered mountain, I wondered why my horse would stop occasionally and glance backwards until the guide offered an explanation. She suggested that I should keep my horse away from the other horses and preferably let it drop back to last in line because my horse was known to have a bad temper. Mine was the only white horse among four black horses, and our guide explained that horses can be as xenophobic as humans. My poor white horse had been traumatized as a result of being mistreated by the black ones, and my horse wouldn't hesitate at a chance to kick the others in the head. Sure enough, ...

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