The great leadership guru John Maxwell states that he is able to accomplish so much because of his 10-80-10 Principle. This principle is an effective and efficient means for delegation of tasks. Use of this principle allows for the work to be accomplished by his people with full authority and proper vision.
He divides the total project into three phases, the first 10 percent, the middle 80 percent and the final 10 percent. He “pours” himself into the first 10 percent in order to get the project started on the right track. He then hands it off to his team to accomplish the middle 80 percent. During this phase, his interaction with the project is minimal. At this point the project is theirs to accomplish. When the project is close to completion, he dives back in to help with the final 10 percent.
He compares the principle to flying an airplane where the takeoff and landing are the crucial parts. This is where the most danger and complexity exist. By being involved during these crucial points, he ensures that the project is satisfactorily completed to the objectives. He ensures a safe takeoff and landing. In a recent blog, Leadership Wired, he spoke on what he does to make the first 10 percent, the takeoff, a success.
The Big Picture
Since he is the leader of the team, he is the one who holds a clear picture of the vision required to accomplish the task. He makes absolutely sure that his team knows exactly what the outcome of the project is to be. This keeps the team from getting lost along the way because they know where they are going.
He breaks the goal of the project into four or five clearly defined objectives. A good objective follows the SMART concept established by Peter Drucker in his Management by Objectives. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Time bound. All this means that a good objective has a clearly defined outcome, can be measured when accomplished, is within the team’s capabilities, is a reasonable and relevant function of the team, and has a specific date when it must be finished. A business truism is that “Work will expand to meet the time allotted.” The time aspect of the objective prevents this from occurring.
Here he breaks down the specific responsibilities of each person on the project. Each person knows how he fits into the project and keeps conflicts from entering the picture. Also, this establishes individual accountability.
Resources and Support
One of the aspects of managing by objectives is that it contains what is needed to accomplish that objective. Here Maxwell ensures that each team member has the resources and tools to accomplish the assigned tasks.
Maxwell then “hands off the ball” to the team and let’s them run with it for the next 80 percent of the project. Each team member will be responsible and accountable for her own piece of the project.
Although Maxwell does not specifically mention this in his posting, I believe that the responsibility for the project itself cannot be delegated. Maxwell must retain this responsibility for himself. He can delegate the power, authority responsibility and accountability for the individual components, however he is ultimately responsible for the accomplishment of the project.
Although at this writing Maxwell did not provide the information for the last 10 percent, you can probably guess what he does during the final 10 percent. If not, you can search for “Leadership Wired” and view all his blog postings.
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