The Sign Off – An Example of Delegation and Decision Making

I had just joined a team as programme manager and was talking to the lead user experience (UX) designer about the latest version of the UX design. We’d not worked together before and this was the first time I’d seen the designs. They looked pretty good to me and I told her so. That is when it got a bit weird.

PgM: They look great.
UX: Okay, I’ll get everybody together to get sign off on the designs.
PgM: Um, who is everybody?
UX: <Lists names of the business representative, product manager, technical architect, business sponsor, technical sponsor, UX discipline lead for the department, development manager, portfolio manager, team assistant to take notes, and quality manager>. I hope they don’t want too many changes.
PgM: <Jaw drops>

As I said, we’d not worked together before so she got rather a surprise when I replied.

PgM: No. No we won’t do that. You recommended it. You said <Product Owner> likes it. Looks alright to me. That’s what we’ll build.

I think it was the first time she’d ever seen somebody make a decision without referring to a group. Perhaps it was also the first time somebody had trusted her professional judgement.

I didn’t blame her too much for her suggestion to convene a committee. That was the natural inclination of most people in that organisation. And certainly that is what they’d been doing on that team before I arrived. Bring everybody together to confer on what to do. Even people who really had no direct part in the activity. Not surprisingly it was quite hard to do anything.

I don’t believe in that. I believe in delegation and personal decision making.

I was paying her to give me great UX and she did. Good enough for me. I couldn’t see any reason to get people who weren’t UX, weren’t the product owner, and weren’t even on the team, to comment.

From my perspective the sponsors had delegated delivery responsibility to me. I had delegated UX responsibility to her. She recommended something. I thought it would lead to a better delivery. Job done.

So we went ahead and built to those designs. Of course they weren’t perfect but it was much more constructive to build something, get it live and get real feedback. Particularly as the alternative was to continue a rather fruitless conversation about wireframes with people whose input I didn’t need or value.

I use meetings for synchronisation and sharing. When I want people to know something. I call a meeting. I want people to synchronise their activities. I call a meeting. Neither of those criteria applied in this situation so I didn’t call a meeting. I decided.