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Why documenting your core processes is so powerful!

“If I think they can do the job 70% as well as I could, then I delegate it.”

This is a rule of thumb used by a very successful friend of mine. He works a 40 hour week, whereas his business partner who doesn’t delegate effectively works 80. I was recently explaining this rule to another friend; a VERY busy CEO.

“I couldn’t accept a task being done at a such a low level” replied my busy friend.

“I do it on the flight deck! When I ask a junior pilot to program the Flight Management Computers, I know they won’t necessarily do the job perfectly.” I replied.

He was shocked!

“I would hope that any task on the flight deck is done at 100%” he chuckled.

This conversation got me thinking…why can it be so tough for some leaders to delegate, and so easy for others??

Then it came to me; it’s all about documenting your processes.

On an airliner, every procedure, including that for programming the computers, is laid out in minute detail in our manuals. Every pilot has an intimate knowledge of the procedures. However, there is still slight variations allowed which means we all do it slightly differently.

Maybe I program the secondary flight plan for a return to the airfield, and maybe someone else uses the ‘secondary’ as a copy of the active. Both are equally acceptable. But the “70% as good as me” is a subjective measure on my part. If the junior pilot does the job as per the manual, it is probably much closer to 99% “as good as me”.

Because I trust that all pilots are intimately familiar with the procedure, I can delegate with confidence! I have to be able to do this…as captain, it is my responsibility to keep abreast of the strategic, ‘big picture’ situation. As things get busier (for example, during an emergency), I must delegate even more to ensure I maintain overall situational awareness.

If you run a business, do you document EVERY process which is repeated frequently?

If so, who’s responsibility was it to write the document, and what is the procedure for amending it?

Please let me know in the comments! I’m interested how widespread this practice is outside of aviation!

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