Art of Effective Delegation

Last week I attended a company workshop which had one hour dedicated to time management and effective delegation.  There are many directions to delegate: Up, Down, and Sideways.  Delegate UP when you need more support.  Delegate sideways when others provide a service that is dependable and more efficient than doing it on your own.  Or when people in your team have availability and can help you to complete the job quicker.  Delegate down when you have direct reports and you can set their priorities and focus.

There are many risks with delegation.  There is an overhead to delegation.  The efficiency provided by delegation needs to be greater than this overhead.  Otherwise there is a near term increase in the total effort required.  (There is the potential that by delegating now with an eye to delegating in the future that this overhead will be reduced.)  There is also a risk about commitment.  Unless the person that you are delegating too is a direct report, it may be difficult to hold them to their commitments.  There is also a risk that they will be given work from their reporting chain that preempts the work that you had delegated to them.  Also there is an implicit assumption that they will be able to delegate back to you.  Will you be able to reciprocate?

What is included in the overhead with the delegation?  And how can this overhead be reduced?  In any situation, there is information required to perform a task.  This information may be “tribal knowledge” and is assumed as known to all that work on a project and is not documented in a way to bring others up to speed.  There are situations where the knowledge is documented, but it would require a significant amount of time to review the requisite documentation to be able to perform the task.  This overhead can be reduced by ensuring that knowledge is capture in consistent way in the organization that optimizes the location of the critical pieces needed to perform a given task.  Also, finding task units and activities that are common through out the organization can help to reduce the overhead of delegating a task.

How is efficiency achieved to offset the overhead of the delegation?  In the situation where everyone is similarly skilled, it only makes sense to delegate tasks based upon the availability of the people involved where the overhead is extremely low.  However, in most cases, the group will be made up of people with different skills, experiences, and inclinations.  It is quite possible that a given task could be performed more than twice as fast by someone else because they have a more efficient way of approaching the problem.  In this case, the ability to delegate can reduce the over all work in a group.  But it is necessary to have some mechanism to identify who is better skilled in a particular area and who has a desire to do a particular type of task.

Delegation can allow a group to get more done only if approached correctly.  Otherwise it might increase the risk and the effort required to perform the same amount of work.

New Ultralearning Project: Can You Learn to Draw Realistic Portraits in One Month?

New Ultralearning Project: Can You Learn to Draw Realistic Portraits in One Month?




Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain



Cristina Gatti

Cristina Gatti is a singer with Post Modern Jukebox.   Here are links to some of her songs.

Continue reading

LilyPond = LaTex for Music!!

LaTeX is used to format math and science papers.  It is a markup language (similar to what HTML is for the web).

LilyPond ( is a markup language for writing musical scores.




Fescobaldi ( a Python program that makes it easy to write the LilyPond code and see the resulting script.



The Interstellar Team

Here are some of the grand prize entries from previous years:

See more at:

Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music

Two sales men go to Africa in the late 1800s to see if there is an potential to sell shoes.  One of them telegraphs back (telegraph here does not refer to an iPhone app, but rather a mode of communication the predates the internet, which didn’t always exist), “There is no potential here, no one wears shoes.”

The other salesman telegraphs back, “- …. . .-. . / .. … / .- / …. ..- –. . / — .–. .–. — .-. – ..- -. .. – -.– / …. . .-. . .-.-.-”  (

Likewise, there are only about 3% of the population that listens to Classical Music.  Some in the industry say if they could just get it up to 4% then the industry would be saved and that there would not be an further orchestra closings.  But Benjamin Zander proposes that maybe many more people (most people) would like classical music, but they just do not know it yet.

Take a look at his TED talk and let me know what you think.


Watch “Ellen DeGeneres with The treadmill freak 2 April 2015” on YouTube

Ellen DeGeneres with The treadmill freak 2 April 2015:

Dining Etiquette & Table Management

Found this wonderful video on dining etiquette & table management.

Simple Tablet Wall Mount

2014-12-29 22.47.24We have been slowly collecting tablets in the form of iPad (original), iPad mini, HP slates, and recently through a purchase of 2 RCA slates that we got for $65 from Walmart during the most recent black Friday sale.

My wife had a good idea of mounting one in the laundry room so that she can listen to music while doing laundry.  We have been thinking of other uses, example: intercom.

There are many options available for mounting.  They make mounts just for this purpose and there are a few really cool DIY ideas.  However, looking for something quick and simple, I decided to go with adhesive valcro tape.  This worked wonder.

I just put two strips on the back, and attached to the wall

2014-12-28 12.41.33
2014-12-28 12.41.43


Conferences I Hope to Attend in 2015

Quantified Self

March 13-15, 2015

San Francisco, CA

Registration Fee: $499

QS15 is a two-day working meeting of pioneering self-trackers, toolmakers, artists, designers and engineers, followed by a grand, day-long, public exposition. Please join us as we inspire each other with our self-tracking projects, try out new tools, and shape the future of Quantified Self.


International Space Elevator Conference

August 2015 (exact dates TBD)

Location: TBD

Registration Fee: TBD


100 Year Starship

TBD (in 2014 it was in Houston in September)


Mars Society Convention

TBD – In 2014 was in League City, TX in August


(keeping an eye out for others… leave a comment if you know of something really interesting)