Thursday, June 16, 2016

The 3D Factor of Leadership

A couple of weeks ago I was presenting Morey's Laws to a PMI chapter, and during the explanation of the first law, You Are Not Superman (or Wonder Woman, for the ladies) a lesson learned from the most common mistake a leader makes, I brought up something that I thought was fairly standard, but had a huge response. I picked an audience member near the front to display delegation, and said to him:

"John, how are you?"


"John, I need a favor, I have this assignment, and the project really needs this done by Friday, can you do that for me?"

"I'll try"

"Thank you John. Since this is critical, can you get back with me Thursday before lunch and confirm that we can make the Friday deadline?"


Now, I didn't think anything more of the interaction than it was a way to show delegation, however when I had the audience identify something they could use immediately from my presentation, a lady stood up and said:

"Your Double Deadline Delegation! I never knew you could do that!"

Considering the number of heads bobbing in the audience I was astounded that it wasn't a more common practice! Which is why I've taken to calling this The 3D Factor of Leadership: Double Deadline Delegation. 

The basics of it are that if you have a tough and absolute deadline in your project, then you shouldn't wait for the deadline to find out whether the team can make it or will miss it. Instead, set a preliminary deadline to check the status, which allows you, as leader, time to react.

In the above case, I picked an arbitrary time (before lunch Thursday) for the deadline. Here's some steps to consider for the 3D Factor:

1. Identify the task that needs to be completed.

2. Identify any constraints, guidelines the people executing needs to be aware of before beginning (i.e. governmental regulations, budget constraints, software to be used, etc.)

3. Identify the Drop Dead Deadline (Huh, another 3 D's.., should I call it the 3D Factors?)

4. Identify who is the most likely candidate(s) to complete the work. If a team will work on the task, pick one person to be primarily responsible for the task.

5. Identify when a status update deadline (Double Deadline) is required so that you can identify if a change in plan is required (i.e. adding more people, trying to extend the deadline with stakeholders, buying more resources, authorizing overtime, etc.)

6. If there are multiple people working on the task, bring them all together, identify the task with the guidelines / constraints, the primary responsible for the task, the Double Deadline, and the Drop Dead Deadline.

7. Let the team work!

8. Circle around to the team every now and then to ensure progress and no new obstacles.

9. Ensure that the primary responsible meets the Double Deadline update.

10. Adjust the plan from there.

This can be seen as a lot of steps, however, as you get better at this, you will find that you do a lot of this automatically, and can perform Double Deadline Delegation quickly, in many cases within your own head (especially if the delegation is to a single person, rather than a team).

I would love to learn what tips and tricks you use on a regular basis as a leader. Please feel free to comment below and let me know. I'm sure people have tips they use regularly which are not common to me!

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