Jeopardizing the Schedule

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

My company went to a big seminar last week, so now, we are on a big kick to “drive decision making down to the lowest level.” As a manager, I am not supposed to answer my team members’ questions. I am supposed to say, “I don’t know, what do you think?” Sometimes, my team members don’t think.

This is a noble idea, but as with most noble ideas, as a manager, you still have to make a judgment. Which decisions are appropriate to drive down? Some are, some are not.

Decisions can be measured by understanding the Time Span of the goal. If a team member has a goal that is due in one week, that creates a Time Span of Discretion of one week. Most decisions like this will be related to the pace and quality of the work.

For example. If a team member is to produce 100 units in a week’s time, they should have the Time Span of Discretion to decide at any given time, if they are ahead or behind schedule. They should be able to decide if they can work on other projects during that time or if they have to put other work aside to complete the 100 units prior to the end of the week. If they run into a problem that they can solve and still get the 100 units produced according to schedule, then they should solve the problem. If solving that problem will take so much time that it jeopardizes the production schedule, then their manager should immediately be consulted so appropriate adjustments can be made.

The Time Span of Discretion is an accurate gauge to determine which decisions should be driven down and which should be reserved for the manager.

3 thoughts on “Jeopardizing the Schedule

  1. Jim D'Wolf

    Bringing value and support to your associate’s decision making is a critical skill for any manager to develop. This site has been filled with that mantra and it rings so true. As a manager, I have ultimate accountability for my associates’ decisions. Teaching and coaching with the Socratic Method takes time to develop and will probably not be successful as a management strategy unless the time span discretion is understood and the organization is committed. I have been witness to and been part of failed deployment of a strategy because it “sounds good at the time”, but management does not fully understand the direction or does not take the time to educate on goals and scope of the strategy.

  2. michael cardus

    what this sounds like to me is
    1) leadership went to seminar
    2) leadership had epiphany at seminar
    3) leadership shifts continuum to new point
    4) this will not last long

    whenever an organization is going to make that much of a change to totally re-structure how decisions are made. It ought to be slow, thoughtful, purposeful, fit into time span, and be relevant to what is being done.

    a concern is that this creates a “flip-flop” or “trend chaser” leadership. where people know if they wait it out long enough and pretend to follow the rules all will go back to how it was.

    Team members should think and as Tom mentioned their thought and goals should respond to their time span.


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