What I Learned from a Lyft Driver

delegating wisely

Fully mounted on my 12-speed bicycle, while rounding the corner on a stretch I have done hundreds of times before, I heard that horrible crack and screeched to a stop. Luckily dodging a fall, I reviewed my bike and all seemed fine as I hopped back on. However, upon taking my first pedal forward and realizing that the wheel would not move, I looked closer and saw that my rear wheel had bent like the shell of a taco.

Stranded, I dug out my phone and requested a Lyft rideshare to pick me and my cargo up. Luckily, the Lyft driver (Jose) arrived within 5 minutes of the request. He looked slightly concerned as I hoisted my bicycle towards his car.  Jose instructed me to load it in the back, overhanging the trunk, tieing it down with a piece of red cord he had. He was sympathetic, and as we started to drive he asked what had happened. I told him the story and that I was taking it straight away to the bike mechanic shop as it was my father’s bike and I didn’t want to inconvenience him if he desired to ride that week. I caught his gaze from the rear-view mirror, as he said to me, “That’s the way to do things man…Take care of it right away.”

I thanked him for the comment as he went on to say, “So many people try to organize how to do everything. They take forever to do a simple task. Or they never do it at all.” He shook his head grimly and said with a slightly stronger Spanish accent, “It’s such a sad thing.”

Delegating Wisely?

After Jose dropped me off at the shop, I thought about it and realized that I am often one of those people that is ‘so sad’. I often try to find an optimal way to do even the simplest of things, trying to group tasks, and am constantly in search of the economies of scale of any assignment. And often I delegate things that I realize take me longer to assign then if I would have just done them myself. Humorously, my business partner often calls me the ‘master-delegator‘, which I definitely don’t appreciate the sound of.

Finding the Balance

Not to say that there is no value in delegation or grouping tasks, but it is, of course, a balance that is needed to find the optimal productivity level. Just as we lose efficiency in checking our emails 10 times per day, there is also lost time when we wait for the optimal moment to fix an obvious problem. The one-touch theory is a productivity hack that has influenced many of the nation’s most highly regarded executives including Jen Berrent of the WeWork coworking enterprise who cites the theory in a recent Fast Company article. To implement one-touch, you select the tasks you wish to complete, prioritize them, and complete them IN FULL before moving on to your next task.

How I Plan to Use this Knowledge in 2018

There are three ways I plan to implement what was inspired by my Lyft driver:

  1. Don’t Delegate One-Time Tasks – Similar to the guidance from Jose. If something can be handled quickly and is not likely to be often repeated, it is best to just handle it straight away. Assigning it to someone else often takes too much effort to explain and as it will not likely be repeated, is a wasted effort.
  2. When Delegating, be clear on what Exactly Needs Done – The goal here is that the person receiving the task should not have to ask for clarification, additional resources, or any other details. Your task should be crisp or you are wasting their time and yours with the inevitable follow-up conversation that will occur.
  3. You can not Delegate Understanding – This 1950’s era theory is focused on the premise that while delegation is important, that the executive staff should understand the nature of what it is they are assigning to their subordinate team. Delegation without a fundamental comprehension of the project will lead to significant issues down the line that can wreak havoc on the overall goals of the venture.

I wish all my rideshares were as inspiring as the one with Jose. Often I have heard that you will be pleasantly surprised by what you can learn from just about anyone you meet; if you just make the conversation. So, I’ll keep chatting with my drivers and see what else I learn.

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