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The Delegation Experiment, Part 4: The Test Drive

The Delegation Experiment is a living documentary of Aaron Mahnke’s journey to free himself from parts of his freelance design business that get in the way of doing what he loves. Part 1 dealt with finding the courage to let go. Part 2 centered around creating an inventory of tasks, responsibilities and time. And part 3 taught how to begin teaching those tasks and responsibilities to others.

Delegating out pieces of a freelance business can be frightening and challenging, but I think it’s pretty clear that if you want to grow, you’ve got to let go. So for all of those following along on this journey and trying to live it out for the first time, way to go. You’re stepping out on a new adventure that will take you places you’ve never thought possible. You’ve made your list of job responsibilities, and you’ve spent the time you needed to craft detailed “how to” guides for all of them. Now it’s time to test out the system.

I think it’s fair to say that any time we build something new, we have to test it before releasing it to the wild. In the movie Julia and Julie we get a glimpse into the life of Julia Child as she and her partners write the two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What surprised me about her writing process was the fact that, for each recipe they put in the book, they tested it out in the kitchen over and over to make sure it was easy to follow the instructions. Perhaps that’s the reason for the timelessness of her book.

If we are going to delegate tasks effectively, we need to write them effectively. And the only way to know if we have accomplished that is to test them out. Put your procedures in the hands of someone you trust and tell them to get to work. Specifically, when you ask someone to test your procedures, have them look for:

  • missing tools or items they need to complete the task
  • steps that are out of order
  • missing steps
  • unnecessary steps
  • unclear language
  • broken links
  • general typos and spelling errors

Some of these are issues we might notice ourselves if we look hard enough. But some are errors or omissions due to the Curse of Knowledge, and we could never find them on our own. This is why finding a trusted friend or family member to test the procedures out is so important. You don’t want nice responses; you want honest responses.

Lastly, one more point to keep in mind. Testing out our procedures becomes a way to break the seal on delegation. If we can’t find the courage, time or energy to hand a new procedure to a spouse or friend and ask them for a no-pressure test drive, how will we ever be able to do this with someone on a permanent, paid basis.

Delegating is about baby steps, not jumping into the deep-end. Testing out your procedures on others before releasing them “into the wild” is one more small step to move you in the right direction. Give it a try today.

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