Sunday, December 9, 2018

Management Thoughts Series - The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part II

The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part II

When you delegate tasks, you create Followers. When you delegate authority, you create Leaders.
                         – Craig Groeschel, Founder of Life Church

Link to the first part of the article -

The first part of the article looked at a few things which very much covered the whole concept and its advantages and disadvantages (if the delegation is not done).

In reality, it is seen that a large number of leaders shy away from the delegation. It may be nice to talk of delegation and why should it be done, particularly during seminars and discussions. In such an environment, in an AC hall and in the company of bigwigs, pontification on Delegation makes right sense. One can also claim “Delegation is my core principle”.

The situation may be different when it comes to its application. The people who spoke so eloquently about delegation and proclaimed that delegation is their “Mool Mantra” (cardinal principle), could well be biggest “Centralists” who consider themselves to be the centre of the organisation and presume that the world has to and is revolving around them.

In simple words, almost everyone vouches for delegation in theory but in reality, most keep all the Authority with themselves and only handover (not delegate because delegate means giving Authority first and then Responsibility of the task) responsibility to the subordinates. Some go one step further. They handover only responsibility to the subordinates and demand accountability from them without assigning authority to them.

It is important to note that organizations are like human beings, they are organic. All kind of organisations succeed and all kind of organizations fail. Organisational success depends on a huge number of tangible and intangible factors and no single factor results in success or failure of an organization.

If it is presumed that an organisation with the climate of delegation and the one which followed delegation very systematically will succeed, it would be an inaccurate presumption. The point is, the delegation should be looked at as an Effectiveness Enhancement Tool and not a pill for success.

This article will examine various factors that influence the decision to Delegate tasks or otherwise. These factors would be examined from the point of view of the Organisation, the Delegator (or Non-Delegator) and The Delegated.

Organisational Factors (of Delegation or otherwise).

-        The work culture of the organization. Most people love to go with the flow. If they realise that their organization values delegation and accepts the attended risk, they will either delegate or at least put up a pretence of delegation.

-        Belief System of the organization.  If the organization has an inherent faith in its people and has the development of their HR as one of the core objectives, the delegation would be encouraged.

-        Tolerance to Ambiguity. When delegation is done, there is uncertainty about the outcome till a feedback is received. If an organization is such that everyone wants live feedback, delegation is not suitable for such organisation.

Factors Affecting the Delegator.

-        Organisational Culture. This point has been discussed above.

-        Delegator’s Depth of Knowledge. Only those superiors who understand what exactly needs to be done in a delegated task can delegate. If they themselves lack knowledge, delegation is unlikely to happen.

-        Delegator's Confidence. Even when delegator has all the knowledge, delegation may not happen if delegator is underconfident about correcting the situation if the subordinate does not perform the delegated task in an expected manner or is unsuccessful.

-        Importance of the Task. As explained in the previous part, only some of the “essential” tasks and most of the “desirable” tasks can be delegated, If the tasks are “vital”, it may be worthwhile to keep them with the superior.

-        Quality and Capability of the Delegated. As much the Delegator would like to delegate if the subordinate is incapable of handling responsibility even after giving authority, Delegation is unlikely.

-        Availability of Resources. Sometimes the resources available for a task are so limited that they just cannot be distributed. In such case, it may not be possible for Delegator to delegate (It is only armed forces which believe that given all the time and resource even a donkey can produce results, an officer must be able to produce a result without both time and resources. Does a donkey actually produce any result other than carrying load is a moot question?).

-        Risk Taking Ability of Delegator. With all the factors are in favour of a delegation to happen, a chicken-hearted (Sorry chickens, I don’t really know if you are chicken-hearted but we humans deem so) delegator (also known as “Zero Error” Syndrome, forgetting that there is nothing called “Zero Error” as errors have their unique way of injecting themselves into foolproof arrangements too) would never delegate. Such Delegators do not operate from the “Hope of Success”. They operate from the “Fear of Failure’.

Factors Affecting Delegated.

-        The desire to Shoulder Responsibility. Some subordinates may be so ambitionless that they are happy doing the bare minimum and have no desire to do anything beyond the routine. If they are delegated a task, it would be a disaster.

-        Knowledge and Initiative of a Delegated. Even when a simple task is delegated, it may need knowledge, initiative and application by an individual. If anyone of the quality is lacking, that quality needs to be developed first before the Delegated (Subordinate)  is capable of taking on the task.

-        The faith of the Delegator. If a subordinate is not been able to garner faith of a superior, as much better he performs in the delegated task, the subordinate is only going get the criticism of this work. But the best part is, if the boss does not have faith in a subordinate (for whatever reason), no delegation is likely to happen.

My Experience.

In my extended carrier, I have come to the conclusion that only these three things affect delegation:-
-        The confidence of the Delegator (in himself). This is explained above. All underconfident Delegators have “Zero Error Syndrome” and would never delegate.

-        Risk Taking ability of the Delegator. When a task is delegated, the accountability remains with the delegator. There is a degree of risk involved in the delegation, even when the task is given to the best of the subordinate. If the senior is “risk averse”, no delegation is possible.

-        The capability of a Subordinate. It is important to delegate tasks to suitable subordinate based or their abilities. The right man should be assigned the right job.

-        Ability to put Faith in the Subordinate. When the adequate authority is provided to a subordinate, responsibility and expected outcome are explained in an unambiguous manner and absolute faith has been posed in him/her, all delegated tasks have been completed in given time and resources and with the required outcome. No subordinate has ever failed me in 34 years in carrying delegated tasks.

Image result for cartoon on delegation

Image courtesy - Internet,. Copy Right - Unknown

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Management Thoughts Series - The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part I

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
– John C. Maxwell, American author

Why did I Write this Article?

In my extended career in the Indian Navy, I was lucky to understand the science and art of delegation very early. I soon acquired some mastery in this art and enjoyed the fruits of delegating the tasks downstream. I am therefore a die-hard propagator of delegation and (hopefully) my colleagues in the Whites who have been with me in the Naval Domain would vouch for this fact. I am now putting my thoughts together with a hope that they would benefit someone someday. No credits are due in this paper as no other work, except the quotation above which has been duly credited to the originator, has been cited.

What is Delegation?

Delegation is all about assigning part of a Senior’s work to an appropriate subordinate. It is an established principle that the responsibility of a specific task and necessary authority to perform the task can be handed over or “Delegated” to another person. However, the accountability for the delegated task continues to remain with the Delegator, who delegated the task. The RAA (The Responsibility, authority and Accountability) matrix of Delegation thus looks as follows:-

Facet of Task
Original Charge
Delegated Charge
Can not be Delegated

Why Delegate?

The overall charge of a senior is a bundle of a variety of tasks. They could be classified into three types by their relevance as Critical, Important and Routine. Another way they can be classified is by  VED fundamentals namely Vital, Essential and Desirable tasks.

The senior managers need to execute, in the shortest possible time, the tasks considered vital, to add value to organizational goals. It, therefore, follows that to perform the Vital tasks, the senior persons should have uncluttered time and energy. The only way that could be achieved is, the senior people in the Management learn the art and science of delegating some of the “essential” tasks and most of the “desirable” tasks to their subordinates.

This and this alone gives the freedom of thoughts and time to Senior Functionaries. The senior executives can devote these resources to what is vital for the organization. With delegation, the Seniors work, fully focused, on a relatively small number of Vital Tasks, safe in the thought that the other tasks are delegated at an appropriate level below them and they are being taken care of.

Why is Delegation Not Done despite Known Advantages?

There are some leaders in various walks of life, few of them successful, who do not delegate at all. It does sound funny but it is true. Such leaders think that they are capable of doing everything themselves, why delegate. There is this other variety of seniors, who think if the tasks are delegated, how will the credit of the tasks accrue to them. What if the task is delegated and while the superior is trying to take all the credit, the subordinate opens his mouth to say he was the one who did the Job?

In short, either the control freaks do not delegate or those who seek to project their image of being hardworking, etc. do not delegate. There is a third variety, who are suffering from zero error syndrome, who obviously lack faith in the subordinates due to their mental make up. In the present management terminology, the abovementioned situations are called ‘Fear of Losing Control’ and ‘Fear of dropping the Ball’.

In the field of management, there is no “straight jacket” that applies to all situations. In certain cases, the enormity of the task may dictate that the task may be performed by the senior most in the hierarchy but such situations are few and far between.

All evolved superiors, seniors and leaders having EQ (Emotional Quotient) delegate to the levels below because the delegation of the tasks which do not merit consumption of time and energy of a superior, to downstream is an “Effectiveness Enhancing Tool”.

What if Delegation is Not Done?

Delegation is an Effectiveness Enhancement tool and that includes enhanced Effectiveness of all the resources including time and energy. If a superior does not delegate and does everything himself (and keep all the resources and power with himself), following clear effects on the Superior and/or organization are predictable:-

(a)                 The first effect is rapid burn out of the superior is likely to suffer as also the organization will tend to lose due to this burnout.

(b)                 The second effect is suboptimum utilisation of resources leading to some resources getting over-utilized while others may be underutilized. Resources are limited and are to be used carefully. It is important to be mindful of the fact that all tasks do not have the same priority. However, if delegation is not done, most tasks will be allocated the same amount of resources (time, manpower, finance, etc.) rather than relative allotment based on priority.

(c)                  The third effect will be an inefficient use of subordinates who will have just the routine work to do which does not add up to their growth and development.

(d)                 Fourthly, if delegation is not done, the subordinate does not get to shoulder higher responsibility. That badly affects “succession grooming” and development of subordinates, a sacred duty of all seniors.


The delegation of some low priority essential and all desirable tasks (for a senior’s point of view) by a senior to his subordinates has distinct advantages and it is something that all seniors should do. In most cases, a leader who is confident about himself is likely to delegate the tasks downstream. Sometimes, the delegated tasks may not be performed in the desired manner but such tasks are from the essential and desirable category, the impact of it remains relatively insignificant to the organization.  

There are attended risks of varying degrees in Delegation of tasks but persons at senior positions in any organisation have reached that far because they have been taking risks in their career.  It's time that all leaders at various levels take to Delegation which is an “Effectiveness Enhancement Tool” and should delegate wholeheartedly. Let us all understand the science of delegation and practice the art of delegation.

Part II is coming soon

Management Thoughts Series - Posting Soon

Dear Fellow readers,

Experiences are meant to be shared for their dissemination. I have lived through smallest of the town to the biggest of the cities. I have studied from a government school to the best of the academies that this nation can offer. I have studied management at JBIMS (could not complete the degree due to frequent transfers) as also College of Defence Management which is affiliated to Osminis University. I have also taught Management to senior defence officers as also undergrads at some colleges.

Even more important fact is I have served in the Indian Navy for about 34 years and practised management at various levels, circumstances and occasions. That makes for a lot of experience and I feel this experience needs to be shared in a distilled form for others to pick up, from it, what suits them.

I am starting to write a series on Management based on original thoughts and sometimes referenced material (duly acknowledged) on a variety of topics, mostly the ones practised by me. Please be a standby if Management is your area of interest.

All comments and views are welcome as and when I post the blog post. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Nairobi, A City with its own share of Wild life

Kenya Trip Day 7 and the Final Day

Our final day at Kenya was meant for visiting Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. We had our plans to visit Giraffe Centre, David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Bommas of Kenya Dance Show.

Since this day no safari was involved we were at Peace. There was no need to start early (and thus no need to get up early) and that gave us time for a peaceful breakfast. In any case, we were in a B & B and the breakfast was to be made by us (self-help). After a grand breakfast of eggs and bread, we set out at about 0900 to go to Giraffe Centre.

 It is Situated at Langata Suburb, about 14 km from where we lived. We were at the Giraffe Centre by 0930. This place is managed by The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW). The Giraffe Centre is on an important mission of protecting and breeding the endangered Rothschild Giraffe who have lost their natural habitat to human greed (sometimes also called development).

This place is on the fringe of Nairobi National Park (this city boasts of a national park within its boundary. Only another place I know which has a National Park within its boundary is Mumbai, which has Sanjay Gandhi National Park), it is very much a forest where once in the past Giraffes were attacked by a Lion of National Park. See the photos below.

Giraffe Home

This being conservation centre for Giraffes. they live in their natural habitat. We, humans, get a very small area of maybe 100 m by 100 m for everything, that is, restaurant, gift shop, restrooms and the most important, a small area which interfaces us with giraffes. One such place is a small boundary wall. Here, the centre volunteers give a chalk shapes stick pieces, made of some combination of Giraffe food, to visitors. These sticks are fed to the Giraffes across this boundary. See the photos below. You can go as close as it gets. 

So cute

The giraffe can actually kiss you in very skillfully taking that bite which you were holding between your lips. Don't believe me? Here is the Giraffe Kissing me.

Kiss on Demand

They are very friendly as long as you are feeding them. Most Giraffes have a good temperament but one odd (and the volunteers know which one) has a mercurial temper and can headbutt you if you keep the feed your hand but do not give it to him (or maybe her).

As long as you feed me, I am a friend

Right next to this place seen above is a two-story hut like round structure where there is a balcony running on all sides on the first floor. You also can romance with Giraffes in that part of the balcony which adjoins the forest. I think it is more convenient for Giraffes to interact with us at that level as they don't have to bend.

Now we are on the same plane

While we were in this balcony, all the Giraffes left and went into the forest (there was some truck that came to discharge some cargo in this forest and the Giraffes got alarmed). Moment Giraffes left, Pumbas (Wild Boers) chanced on the Giraffe food that was laying on the ground and had a feast of it.

Lead me too the food

Ringa Ringa Roses

I found it, I found it

An important place in this hut-like structure is a small demonstration hall on the first floor where one of the volunteers gives you detailed information about Giraffes in general and Rosthchild Giraffe in particular. Do not miss that short lecture. It is worth listening to.

After a delightful and educative visit, we drove to David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. We were enjoying the company of Giraffes but the issue was, David Sheldrick is open for public only between 1100 to 1200 hrs.

This place is a real life saver for elephant calves separated from their mother's death of the mother or mother has been killed by poachers or some other reason. It is important to understand that they need their mother to nurture them till the age of at least two years. It is said that the elephant calf is destined to die if the mother is not there and he is not rescued. 

Once they get information about such claves they rescue them, nurture them for sufficient time (till they are self-sufficient, I think till about the age of 7 years) and then rehabilitate them with the wild herds of elephants in one of the many National Forests in Kenya. A commendable task. 

At David Sheldrick, they get two sets of calves, the young ones and the older ones, to come to an arena having a water pond, mud, loose soil and the attendants to look after them. Once they are there, its just sheer fun to watch them enjoy themselves. 

Here We Come

No Work Without Pay (oops, I mean Milk)

What a Marching Formation! Are they Military Elephants!

There is no better Fun then to Play in the Mud

Get Out, It's our turn now

Community Frolicking 

I love this Coolness

Get Up, We need to move out

While Others Play, Let me Eat


Pumba is here also to have fun

Pumbs has the Mud Pool to Himself

Bura Na Mano Holi Hai (Lets SPray each other, its Holi, Festival of Colours)
After leaving the fun at the Elephant Orphanage, we had our lunch and then went to Kazuri (Meaning Small and Beautiful in the Swahili Language) Beads Factory. Started sometime around 1795 with just two employees in order to provide employment to Single Mothers around Nairobi, this lace now is a mean of livelyhood of about 300 Women.

The visit is a great way to learn about beadmaking (and also pottrery making) from the clay. They conduct you around in small batches and explain the whole process of bead making, starting from clay preparation to bead making, baking colouring the beads and baking them again to give that beautiful shine. One is allowed to take photographs at every stage. 

While I am not including photographs of clay preparation, see the work for yourself in a few photos that I have added.

Making of beads from clay

Making of beads from clay - photo 2

Baking Oven Ready to be Fired

Baked Beads

Painted Beads

Finished Beads

Bead Collection

Small Ornaments

Pottery and Toy Making
Our final destination in the Nairobi city was Bomas of Kenya. Boma in Swahili means a Homestead. It is a cultural centre having Bomas of various tribes of Kenya in its vast premise as also a big circular auditorium. where a daily show of Kenyan Dances is held every day. On working days the show is from 1430 to 1600.

They have a huge circular auditorium where these dances happen on the centre stage. In this short span, which also has an interval in between, they accommodate many traditional dances of myriad tribes of Kenya. Prior to every dance,  an excellent commentary is given which gives out full information about that dance. Its a enjoyable show and gets us some insight into dances of Kenyan tribes. Here are a few videos of some of the dances. Enjoy the rhythm and the energy of these dances. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Searching and Locating a Lion is Fun - Quick three hour Safari in Masai Mara

Day 6 of Kenya Trip (Day three at Masai Mara)

It was our 6th day in Kenya and third day at Masai Mara. We had a window up to 0930 for safari (as our permit was to expire at 1000 hrs) but three out of our team of 5 were not keen on getting up early but being hardcore travellers, I and my daughter decided to take our chances and go for early morning safari.

The park opens for visitors at 0630 and we were on the dot. The first thing that greeted us was the glory of morning sun and the pristine golden sky.

Peeping Sun

The grand peaceful Morning scene

Going deeper into the Forest, we encountered a charged atmosphere. One Cheetah was on the prowl and was testing various herds for identifying his potential kill.

Savannah grassland makes it very easy to photograph objects from a distance, here is the Cheetah in the backdrop of Umbrella Acacia tree.

The herd and the Cheetah are testing each other's patience

Jackals are the Side Kicks of Cheetah. See how one of them is imitating Cheetah

Itni Badi Mahafil aur ek kill, Isko Lu ya Uska Lu?
We waited for almost 45 minutes but the tussel was on and the Cheetah going for kill looked a remote possibality at this time. We were on a time constrained safari and we had to wind it up by 0930. We decided to move on.

My daughter had been asking me for last two days that Eric takes us to Lion when he gets information from other guides. Why he does not track any Lion heimself. Though I did not tell Eric this, he seems to have sixth sense. he keept driving us deeper and it looked a aimless driving. The reality was different.

After some time and after a tyrn he told us to look out for something walkng ahead of  us.  Lo and behold! it was a huge Lion walking ahead of us looking for a shade to settled down to rest.

Soon he found a tree and sat down. Knowing nature of Lions, it was evident that the Lion is here to stay for long time. However, our happiness was because of the fact that we were the first one to locate the Lion and stayed the only vehicle for over 15 minutes before second and subsequent vehicles to come there, obiviously because of our guide Eric informing othres.

After about half an hour there, we started our return journey. Masai Mara was teaming with all kind of wildlife and we had our own fill viewing to our heart's contained.

As we were heading towards exit, the wildlife was going away from us. Bidding goodbye to these magnificent creatures of the wild, the Lions, Lionesses, Cheetahs, Leopards, Zebras, Giraffes, etc we returned to our lodge.

After haing breakfast, we moved out of the lodge and started our journey to Nairobi where we were staying for a day.