Meeting the Challenge of Delegated Tasks Without Delegated Authority

Company leaders are extremely busy, so when it comes time to work on the day-to-day tasks of a design project, they often delegate the responsibility of providing feedback and managing communication. The challenges come when they still want the ultimate say in the project, thereby retaining authority.

Delegating tasks may seem like the most effective and efficient way to allow a project to keep moving along, and with the right preparation, it can be. But when these tasks are delegated without the authority to make decisions or clear guidance on the end goal/project vision to provide feedback, it can end up costing time and lead to backtracking. Well-intentioned feedback and decisions early on in the design journey may cause a project to take a different path than leaders intended, with the result being a need to start back at square one.

Starting the project and all players off on the right path takes a time investment up front that will save time in the long run. Decision makers should:

  • Articulate the end goal and project vision
  • Create criterion sets with must haves and must nots (these include items regarding the brand as well as personal preferences that may affect an approval)
  • Establish the types of decisions that must be made by themselves and what can be made by the project leader

Keeping the project and players on the right path requires that project leaders:

  • Review the project timeline and schedule internal check-in points with the decision maker
  • Manage all communication between the company and design team, bringing need-to-know information to the decision maker
  • Evaluate all internal feedback against the project goal, vision, and criteria and cull out the actionable items
  • Consolidate all actionable feedback for the decision maker to review quickly and efficiently
  • Clearly articulate the final, actionable feedback to the design team
  • Make decisions (at the level delegated to them) based on the project goal, vision, and criteria
  • Recognize when a challenge, change, or question necessitates bringing the final decision maker in

By establishing clarity for both roles early, the challenges of delegated tasks without delegated authority greatly diminish, leading to a project that is more likely to finish on time, on budget, and on point.

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