August 24, 2011

Create Systems. Not Silos.

"When I try to do everything on my own, too little gets done. When I empower those around me, I am surprised by how little goes wrong."
Over the past two weeks, my entire outlook on work has shifted dramatically. My plan had been to determine the most valuable and necessary tasks at my University I could personally take charge of, and exclusively focus my energy there. It's the 80/20 rule. Determine the 20% of my workday that creates 80% of my value as an employee, and spend as close to 100% of my time on these tasks as possible.

With my manpower alone directly responsible for the value of specific initiatives, I can get 40 solid hours of this amazing work done in a week.

But what if instead, I created systems?

What if instead of my control freak nature which feels I have to personally reply to every comment on our University's social networking sites - I empower others around me, much closer to the specific questions being asked to interact with. What if rather than re-writing every page of our 2,000 page site myself, I create a navigation framework and outline based on Web best practices and ask department chairs to fill in the holes.

Will the results be slightly worse than if I had done it myself? No, because the quantity getting done will be 10-20x what I could have done on my own.

Sometimes, we work so hard to prove ourselves invaluable to our organization. But if we're really looking to create value, we set up systems that won't immediately die upon our departure.