Over the fence

The fence of Summer Garden by  Andrey Korchagin

It’s easy to work to completion and give things their proper attention, when you don’t have a lot on your plate and you’re doing work that’s super-interesting.

As soon as you change one of those parameters (availability or interest), then you have a situation where you start being more aggressive about how you manage your resources. The mindset can change from “how can I properly address what I’m looking at?” to “how can I get this off my plate?”

One of them involves bringing something of yourself to bear on the situation. You transform what’s there by investing your attention and effort.

What you were focussing on is now fundamentally different. If it’s now time for someone else to get involved, what they need to do, is probably now different from what you did – a reflection of the fact that you moved things along.

If instead, you kick something over the fence, then all you’ve changed is the geography.

You haven’t transformed what’s there, you’ve just put it on someone else’s plate. They now need to do what you should have done, but probably now with less time to deadline.

It’s not possible to do everything, and there is a great power in delegation. But kicking something over the fence isn’t delegation. It’s doing the least amount possible to make it someone else’s problem without directly acknowledging that you haven’t really moved it along.

Kicking something over the fence generates debt. It might be more work down the line or the resentment of the recipient. Sometimes it’s neither, often it’s both.

Either way, it’s important to realise that giving fewer things their proper attention is almost certainly better than kicking more things over the fence.