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MASTER THE MOMENT
Jean-René Bouvier of Buzzinbees doesn’t just use his calendar to
schedule meetings with other people – he also schedules things he
does alone. If he’s planning to exercise, that goes in his calendar; if
he needs to work on something alone, that goes in his calendar.
Serial entrepreneur Juha Christensen even schedules time to goof
off. He says that it’s important to leave time just to do nothing.
Why not put that in your schedule, so you know you’ve allocated
time for it?
You don’t have time to do everything yourself – and you also don’t
have the skills to do it all – so you have to know what to delegate
and to whom. Depending on your situation you may delegate to
subordinates, to peers, or to higher ups. This is true in work and
it’s true in your personal life.
Gary Heavin started Curves with his wife, Diane. The fastest
growing franchise ever, Curves was built by word of mouth, and
by making sure that everybody involved benefits.
Gary spends a lot of time building trusting relationships. Once you
establish trust in both directions and share common values,
delegating in either direction is no problem at all.
Remember that when you ask somebody to do something, you’re
asking them to accept the importance of the task. How they inter-
nalise the importance or the value of the task makes all the differ-
ence in how well they perform. Psychologist Edward Deci (1995)
talks about three things that can happen when you try to get some-
body to internalise an idea. These are rejection (they don’t accept
the idea at all), introjection (they accept it superficially but not
Exclusive discussion with Jean-René Bouvier, April 2010.
Exclusive discussion with Juha Christensen, April 2008.
Exclusive discussion with Gary Heavin, April 2010.
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wholeheartedly, much like swallowing something without digesting
it), and integration (they fully accept the idea it as if it were their
Deci’s experiments on getting somebody to do a boring task show
that if three elements are present in the demand, the subject is
more likely to integrate the task, as demonstrated by the fact that
they perform the activity in their free time. They will take on the
job and show volition if the demand includes these elements:
providing a rationale;
acknowledging that it may be something they do not want to do;
granting that they do have a choice about not doing it, while
at the same time emphasising that it’s important to you that
they do it.
In practice it’s not so hard to provide a rationale and to acknowledge
that it’s not something they want to do. However, giving the other
person a choice not to perform the task is not always something you
want to do when delegating downwards. You won’t achieve perfec-
tion here – just do the best you can to try to include these three ele-
ments when asking somebody to do something for you. If you can
minimise the pressure – and thereby give the other person some
sense of choice – he or she will take ownership of the task and will
do a better job of it.
Delegating to somebody
On delegating, Patrick Quinlan told me: ‘When you’re running an
organisation of any size, you want to spread out the work to
approach the definition of efficiency, which is each doing only
what each can do. When people aren’t doing the job they’re
supposed to be doing, that will eventually bubble up to the CEO.
In this situation, people, starting with the CEO, aren’t delegating
appropriately. To delegate requires clear direction, and proper
recruitment and training. It’s all about getting other people to do
their jobs, so you don’t have to do it for them.’
Exclusive discussion with Patrick Quinlan, April 2008.