Decoupling Myself

March 07, 2018

One of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis, especially at Code for Boston, is trying to remove myself as a dependency from the organization. There is a difference between success because you are good at something and success because you have built an organization that is good at something. As Al Gore is fond of saying, “if you want to go quickly go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

The hardest part of decoupling is effective delegation. As you try and remove yourself as a dependency you quickly realize that the vision in your head of what needs to be done does not exist in everyone else’s heads. Yesterday I put up some community asks to the folks at Code for Boston and after I put up those asks some members asked me about them. I then realized I had not given everyone all the information they needed to fulfill those asks. Delegation is not a free activity.

The individual hero is the opposite of organizational success. If you want to test whether you have succeeded in decoupling yourself you might try to step back when a big project is due. It can be challenging to step back and watch something you are a part of fail. However that failure is and should be a signal to the rest of the world that the team you are on is not resilient to your absence. In the words of a co-worker of mine, your team has a bus number of one.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.