Never too early to delegate

Randy Pausch was an American professor of computer science, and human-computer interaction and design, at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Even though I never met him, he is one of my numerous gurus and has greatly influenced me.


Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He gave an upbeat lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18, 2007, at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller.

Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.

Pausch gave a lecture about time management on November 27, 2007 at the University of Virginia, to an audience of over 850 people. I saw the video of this lecture in December 2007, while Randy Pausch was still alive. I became an instant fan and a disciple. Who would know more about importance of time management, than a man who had so little time left! Even if this lecture is not as popular as the last lecture, it’s a treasure of practical advice on time management. Since then, I have shown these videos to many people. In fact, during one of the Diwali celebrations, I distributed CDs containing both these lectures to a large number of people as Diwali gift.

The picture at the beginning of the article is picked from the slide deck that he used for the lecture. He covers a large ground on techniques about time management, and one of the important tools is effective delegation. Randy brings up the slide and then says, “It’s Never Too Early to Delegate”.  The audience actually takes some time to get the message from the slide and then explodes laughing. The picture shows Randy with his one year daughter. In the first picture, Randy is holding the milk bottle, whereas in the second picture, he has delegated the work of holding the bottle to her. Smile

It’s a huge lesson to all the managers as well as the parents. We always try to protect the new team members and children, by not giving them complete responsibility of a task, that we think is too difficult for them. In the process, we end up doing a lot of work, that could have been done by someone else. And we also manage to frustrate the eager junior from taking up the responsibility and growing. Remember. It’s never too early to delegate.

Thanks Randy for being who you were and doing what you have. You have inspired a lot of us to be better human beings.

Readers, if you haven’t watched these lectures, click on the links above and see them. Bothe the lectures are about 90 minutes each. So make sure you have time before you start.

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