Delegation is Not "Buck Passing"
The article isn't online, you'll have to join the club lucky enough (ahem) to fly American Airlines to read the gem of an article from American Way magazine titled “Pass the Buck to Make a Buck.”
The main point is a valid one, that refusing to delegate is bad for your employees and bad for business. Agreed. The article references a book Ron blogged about here.
But I take issue with relating delegation to “passing the buck.” If you delegate something (whether it's maintenance of train tracks or toy safety), you are still responsible, as the manager and as the delegating authority. So, I think the headline is in error.
One other thing jumped out at me, a story told that illustrates why you should delegate “outcomes” instead of specific tasks:
“… he advised a retail client to stop telling employees how to stock. The result: Employees filled store shelves about 35 percent faster – precisely because they disregarded some of management's rules. For example, they no longer stocked the soda first, since that required pulling out numerous other crates in order to reach the soda, which is typically stored toward the back.”
Even though it wasn't told in the context of Lean, I thought that was a brilliant story that we could think about in the context of Lean. That's a perfectly good example of why Standardized Work should be defined by those who do the work. It also shows why management must create an environment where “kaizen” (continuous improvement) is something that can be discussed openly, since who knows what improvements might otherwise be left on the table?
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