At Code for Boston I keep a backlog of projects that are ideas for the organization. Many of these tasks are not exciting or interesting to a large group of people, but they are valuable ways to move the organization forward. Usually I try and delegate these tasks to folks with varying degrees of success. Recently I delegated a task and it worked better than I expected.
The project is still in progress so I am not going to share what it is. However I do want to share the surprise of how it is happening. The first step was to let Code for Boston know what I was planning to do. Then to say I was going to start doing it. When I did this, people offered to help. I asked some questions about their background and it sounded like they were skilled at things, so instead of continuing the project I offered to give them control. I told them the major idea behind what I wanted to do, and then asked them to guide me.
Recently I saw a rough draft of their work and it was of much higher quality than what I was likely able to produce. This made me both proud and excited. Suddenly I found a new non-project way to engage my members in helping the organization. They are doing something they enjoy and are good at. As a result Code for Boston will be better off.
This is a story about converting potential into kinetic energy. Despite the fact a giant backlog of important things exists in Code for Boston world, people do not often seem interested in the backlog. The key catalyst was telling folks that a project was happening. At that point is when they became excited to contribute.