360 Delegation

There’s two things I hate more than anything in business: waste and entitlement.

Keep reading and you’ll discover one of the most powerful tools ever created to dramatically reduce wasted time, energy, and money.

(And – oddly – hear about Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner?)

This tool works in any business, any industry, any country, any language, online and offline.

It’s a tool I invented called 360 Delegation.

A Dollar Saved is a Dollar Earned

“Earnings” is not top-line revenue or sales.  It’s bottom-line profit, what the company keeps after all (or most) expenses are deducted.

Every business has expenses to pay.  Service companies are lucky to keep 20% – 50%.  Many re-sellers and manufacturers live on razor-thin 1% – 3% margins. Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner

Let’s say ACME Anvil Corp., makers of anvils to squish the Roadrunner, has a 10% profit margin.  When Wile E. Coyote buys an anvil for $10, ACME pays all their expenses (including materials, labour, overhead, taxes, interest, etc) and are left $1 of profit on the all-famous “bottom line.”

ACME Anvil Corp. is like most Entrepreneurs: 1) They want more profit; 2) They believe to boost profits, there’s only one option: sell more anvils!


The other – and usually farrrr more efficient solution – is to reduce expenses one way or another.

And this is where it gets really exciting: a dollar saved goes straight to your bottom line.

That’s right: if ACME Anvil Corp. cuts expenses by $10, their profit increases by the full $10.  There’s no 10% ratio.  Reducing expense is a 100% profit booster.

And it scales: whether they reduce expenses by $10K or $1M, it’s all pure profit, baby.

Same is true for you.  Ask your accountant.  They’d be delighted to explain.

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

Companies everywhere are hemorraghing cash.  Yours probably is too.

Occasionally it’s because of one or two big gashes.  We hear about those in the news, “In 2015 U.S. Employees Stole $18 Billion at Work,” or a major lawsuit threatening to shut down a company.

What we never, ever hear about, and what is sucking cash out of nearly 100% of business, is the hundreds (thousands!) of tiny little paper cuts all over the place:

  • It’s the email thread that took 10 emails back-and-forth that should have been completed in 5.
  • It’s the misunderstanding that caused the designer to do 5 revisions instead of 2.
  • It’s the 5 extra days we pay credit card interest because a customer is late paying us.

360 Delegation will allow you to significantly cut down all this horrendous waste and boost profits.  That’s good for everyone – a more financially stable company allows more job security and more rewards for everyone.

To Employees Having a Heart Attack Reading This

I don’t blame you if you’re feeling panic reading this.  Let me assuage your fears:

First of all, and this is an important point, my goal is NOT to promote lay-offs.  Instead, I’m offering you a tool to help you become so efficient, so effective you become a crucial, indispensible part of the team.

(And I’m inspiring your Entrepreneur towards increased profitability so the company can maximize stability and security, keeping your job alive and well.)

Secondly, 360 Delegation is a shared responsibility, a two-way street.  If you regularly receive poor delegation (from your boss, clients, etc) it’s wasting colossal volumes of your time, energy, and possibly money too.  Life sucks when you receive poor delegation.

But you needn’t be roadkill, a victim of vague, messy direction your Delegator flung your way.  Introduce 360 Delegation (explicitly or implicitly), and request clarification from your Delegator until you’re satisfied 360 Delegation is fulfilled.

Three Crippling Costs

Sooooo much time, energy, and money gets wasted in businesses because of:

  1. Changeover
  2. Rework
  3. Delay of Delivery

The Ping-Pong of Changeover

Ever been in this email death-trap before?

“Are you available Thursday at 2pm?”

“No, can you do Friday at 1pm?”

“No, but I can do Friday at 2pm.  Does that work for you?”

“Sounds good.  Where should we meet?”

85 emails later, the meeting gets scheduled.  Everyone is proud (or exhausted) from being so productive – i.e. busy – answering emails all day.

Really, this email should have looked like:

“I’m available Thursday or Friday at 2pm.  Do either work?  If not, can you suggest 2-3 alternatives?  Also, I’m assuming we’ll meet on Skype.  If that doesn’t work, please suggest what works best for you.”

Rework: “Oh, Now I Get It!”

In carpentry, there’s a famous expression, Measure Twice and Cut Once.

All businesses – including young startups – can benefit from this deep wisdom.

Sometimes rework happens because people make mistakes, but sometimes it’s just because they didn’t have enough clarity in the first place.

Either way, they’re forced to back-track and re-work what they’ve already built once before.

Smouldering Delay of Delivery

Delay of Delivery is crippling in a number of ways:

  • When a project is late and you have to pay (unnecessary) rush fees to contractors, overtime to employees, or express fees to couriers and FedEx.
  • When a project or split-test proves to improve profits by $1,000 / week, you realize every week you were late represents $1,000 in lost profit you’ll never, ever get back.
  • Depending on your business and clientele, a late delivery can trigger late-penalties and late-fees outlined in your contract.
  • When projects are late, payment is often delayed too.  Any project you may have ear-marked those funds for must wait.  The simplest example is paying interest on debt.  Every extra, unnecessary day you’re carrying high-interest debt (credit cards, anyone?) is bleeding cash from your bottom line.
  • Internally, when you’re late delivering a project, there’s an inevitable domino effect inside the company where everyone else is forced to rework (see above) their production and delivery schedules, and/or pay overtime, late fees, rush fees, etc (see above).

Use 360 Delegation and Save Vast Oceans of Time, Energy, and Money

Remember, 360 Delegation is a powerful tool whether you’re giving or receiving direction.

It’s simply addressing these three elements: 1) Vision, 2) Resources, 3) Definition of Done.

Use it anytime you’re giving or receiving delegation: email, Trello card, Convo or Slack message, heck I’ve even used it when leaving a voice note for my Executive Assistant.


1. Vision

In bullet form, give a few points on what you’d like accomplished.  The following list will help prompt you.  Don’t have to answer all of these, this is just to inspire your thinking:

  • what do you want done?
  • what’s your vision for completion?
  • why are we doing this? (especially important for Fact Finders)
  • when are we starting this task / project?
  • what are the milestones along the way?
  • what’s the ultimate, final, drop-dead deadline?
  • consider telling a story – what are the stakes if this goes well?  poorly?
  • IMPORTANT: can you show a sample of success?  A screencast, screenshot, picture, video, sound clip, link to website… something?


2. Resources

List all the resources you think will be needed.  Consider:

  • Access – online – website passwords
  • Access – physical – keys to a building or room, login info for a computer
  • Money needed, access to credit cards, PayPal accounts
  • Expertise – “how to” courses, blog posts, training sessions
  • Expertise – consultants available to hire
  • Manpower – team members, outside contractors
  • Software
  • Systems / Checklists
  • Decision-Making Guidelines
  • Approvals and/or Authority
  • Hours allocated to complete
  • Equipment / Hardware
  • Storage – online or physical
  • Itineraries of people or events
  • Language / translators


3. Definition of Done

What is the Acceptance Criteria for this project?  What do you, the Delegator, need to see to “sign off” on this project?  To say, “Wow, this is successful!”

  • Specifications of finished project; e.g.) image exported to JPG, 300 x 300 pixels
  • Sign-offs required from management or client
  • Storage of files after completion; e.g.) store both working file and exported files to Dropbox folder: Clients > ABC Corp > Graphic Design > Banner Ads
  • Double-check against related contracts
  • Quality-Assurance Checklists created / completed / checked
  • Important Dates highlighted
  • Schedule created


There you have it, 360 Delegation.

I promise 360 Delegation will feel clunky to use in the beginning, but – believe me – your team will be floored with the clarity you give them.

Soon enough you and your whole team will be richly rewarded by significant increases in speed and efficiency.

And remember – as Leader, your true work is in the first 10% of any project, setting the vision and communicating your overall strategy.  Perhaps when you started the company it made sense for you to do the middle 80% of the work, but now you’ve got other people to help with actually doing the work.

Your role has evolved, so now it just makes sense to invest the front-loaded energy into using 360 Delegation so everyone who carries the torch for you sees your vision as clearly as you do.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

P.S.  If you’d like to find out more on how you can get yourself an Assistant to help you with those $15/hr tasks, visit www.GreatAssistant.com

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8 thoughts on “360 Delegation

  1. Fantastic post. I have implimented definition of done over the last year, and it has really changed the way projects are completed. I'm amazed at how much can get done in 3 months while doing this. I'm excited to get better at the other two!

  2. Love this Post. Not only is this great to use with the team, I use this tool as well in conjunction with the kanban as a way to be clear with myself. Thanks so much for putting this article together!

  3. Winnie, you're so welcome :). I totally agree w you: yes this tool was born to help lead other people, but it's been a huge tool for myself to get clear on what I really want too. So true!

  4. The specific suggestions are great. I love it Timothy Francis!

    This stuff is translates into tremendous amounts of "gold" — whether that's in a financial sense, break throughs on projects, and working together as a team (speed, fun and unity).

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

    The Resource Man strikes again with great force and value! ;)

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