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The creation story

Not too long ago, I heard a common refrain from a group of CEOs of small/medium sized firms.

I wish I could delegate all tactical stuff to my core team. That would free up my bandwidth to focus on the big picture.”

They had tried delegation earlier, but it had failed. Without the CEO’s active involvement, decision making suffered, execution slowed down and deadlines were missed. To save the day, these CEOs were forced to go back to helicopter-mode.

The diagnosis: Their Core team members weren’t yet “delegation-ready”. There was a capability gap, in the way core team members planned their own work and led their teams.

One of those CEOs offered his own venture as a test case, if I could come up with a novel way of solving this delegation dilemma.

Together, we designed a 3-month program to address the issue, and immediately put it to use at his company. Three months later, here is what he had to say:

We are a fast-growing start-up in the agritech space. As the MD, I have multiple demands on my time – investor meetings, long term strategy and supporting our Vertical Heads in their work. 

When we were smaller, I could get involved in every decision my team made and handle most customer negotiations myself. But as we started growing and expanding into multiple segments and geographies, I needed to be able to take a step back and think more about our long term goals. My team needed to manage day-to-day operations, without having to check with me at every step. 

Working closely with Shirish on the HumSarathi program for 3 months, I slowly saw my team get more independent. Both speed and quality of decision making of the team has improved. We still have weekly reviews, but I am no longer the bottle neck for small decisions.

Now, with my team on auto-pilot, I can devote more time to strategic growth projects and long term initiatives for the company.

So that’s the creation story, which played out in the summer of 2020.

Rest of the story

I’ll continue the rest of the story FAQ style.

What is the offering, again?

We help founders / CEOs delegate without worry.

That done, CEOs will have the bandwidth to focus on the big picture.

How exactly do you make that happen?

For a CEO to delegate without worry, the core team must be made capable.

We engage with each nominated core team member 1-on-1. The stated goal is: Learn to operate without supervision in 3 months.

First, we help identify the bottleneck … it could be avoidance of risk, fear of confrontation, a narrow view of their own roles or lack of a skill like project management. It could even be their past experience with the CEO.

That done, we address the bottleneck. Teaching, coaching, provoking, role modeling, providing feedback, setting practice tasks and tracking completion. And connecting with CEO intermittently, to check progress.

By the 2nd month, the CEO starts to see changes. Core team members start to…

– solve problems on their own (not just bring problems to CEO’s notice)

– deliver on commitments in a planned way (without needing follow-up from CEO)

– build their team’s capability (and then delegate effectively)

– make independent decisions (without seeking CEO’s approval for minor things)

For a more concretely idea of the process, do read this short case study of a recent project.

How is this any different from other MDPs?

Typical MDPs are an intense burst of 2 to 5 days of activity… followed by NOTHING. In the absence of implementation support, the manager loses momentum soon. The time and money invested is almost totally wasted.

But in a HumSarathi program, interaction with the coach is EVERY WEEK for 3 months! The agenda remains on the table till old habits change.

Another big difference: We employ whichever method works. Sometimes, we use question-led coaching and at other times, we give straight-forward advice. We meet as often as needed, spend time in the field to understand the context and even arrange meetings with well-matched mentors. We’re goal-focussed and we know that the best method for each individual may be different.

Here’s another one: Unlike traditional training/MDPs, there is no loss of productivity. Your team doesn’t need to go anywhere… the program comes to wherever they are, at home or office. Their time investment is about 2 hours a week, and the rest of the effort is about doing their existing work differently.

The result is: You get serious value. Here’s a comparison of alternatives, as we see it.

What does the CEO need to contribute?

You must be willing to give your team members significant leeway, as they become more capable.

Without that, it simply won’t work. Surely, we’re not expecting you to move to the other extreme and abdicate responsibility. But we are talking of loosening your grip on the steering wheel and letting your team take that up.

Logistics?

We meet your team members either at your office premises or online, depending on the need and COVID-related restrictions. Typically, one meeting every week, with additional interactions where needed.

I need to know more. What next?

Simply write to me. I am at shirish@HumSarathi.com

I’ll answer any questions you have. Then, should you wish to engage, we’ll pull out all the stops.

About Shirish Kher (Founder of HumSarathi)

Shirish has taken quite a circuitous (hence interesting) route to where he is now. Started off with an Engineering (IIT Kanpur ’97) & Management (IIM Ahmedabad ’99) education.

Gathered corporate experience at IT departments of Asian Paints and General Electric. Roles involved evaluating software user’s requirements, roll-out of ERP software and leading a team for maintenance of software.

Switched track to the Learning Industry and managed sales to large corporate accounts in NCR region for iDiscoveri, an experiential education startup.

Since 2005, he has been an independent professional in the learning and HR consulting space. The predominant area of work has been culture building in teams and data-based decision making. In terms of methodologies, he has used training & coaching, classroom & outbound settings, individual & group engagement.

Along the way, out of a desire to make History education engaging, he co-founded DeepDiveIndia, an immersive travel startup. It seeks to use storytelling as a tool to explore history of a region. Operations are currently in 2 north-Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The COVID pandemic, which was a challenge for the tourism industry, was an opportune time for a pivot: to webinar-based storytelling. Now, both physical tours and webinars have become lines of revenue.

He actively blogs about his experiences and insights on his personal website and on Linkedin.