04.03.19 | Chris Daily |
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite management tools that I’ve used in the past: delegation poker.
Created by Jurgen Appelo, delegation poker helps teams and people come to an agreement on key decisions and activities through the process of shared delegation assignment.
Equally as important as the outcome is the conversation that occurs between the participants within the discussion. This conversation helps foster a common understanding of responsibilities while encouraging empathy.
Delegation poker is played just like its cousin: planning poker. Each participant gets a deck of cards that contains the seven levels of delegation. The various levels start with command (“go do this”) on the left and span across the spectrum to the right of full delegation (“you make the call”).
As a facilitator, I encourage all attendees to send me a list of crucial decision topics a few days before the workshop. I compile the decision areas into one list and email the compiled subjects out one day before the meeting. This gives the attendees an opportunity to discuss, as they so choose, with their teams.
At the start of the workshop, I explain to the group why we’re doing this, what the expected outcomes are, and the benefits of this approach. I usually add the disclaimer that this is an iterative process and that we will test our levels of delegation over the next few months. Including this disclaimer sets the tone for the meeting that it’s okay not necessarily to agree on every single point, but that consensus can be achieved by acknowledging that we will revisit the levels of delegation using an iterative approach.
Next, we will review and validate the list of key decision areas. Usually, there’s a conversation about the validity of a few key areas. Additional topics that were not included in the list are discovered as part of the discussion. It’s essential that the critical decision areas are understood and leave little room for interpretation. Otherwise, you and your attendees will lack clarity at the time you discuss that particular item.
How To Play
The exercise starts exactly like planning poker.
- The facilitator first lists the topic.
- Each attendee selects the level of delegation that they think is appropriate.
- Together, all attendees reveal their selection.
- The conversation is facilitated by discussing what was revealed. Initially encourage the folks with the highest and lowest levels of delegation to first share their thoughts.
- After an appropriate amount of discussion, a re-voting occurs.
- This process continues until a mutual understanding is agreed upon by the attendees.
At the end of the workshop, the facilitator should document the results and share them publicly. The facilitator should also be available, as required, to attend team meetings and gatherings to explain the process, the results, and future steps.
In numerous organizations, this is often the first time that many of the workshop participants have discussed delegation.
“Assumption” is the rule for a lot of organizations, albeit it not a good one.
I assume that you know what I think even about these assumptions although I have never succinctly told you. Unmet expectations lead to a holistic lack of trust, which can be devastating to an organization.
Thanks for coming in today.
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