Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Delegation and Control

I always have fun when I get to perform in musical or drama presentations for church, school, and civic groups. And I can usually learn something as I watch how the leaders of the production manage the process of “herding cats”.

There are probably no two groups in the world that have bigger egos than thespians and musicians. (Well, maybe politicians, but that that’s a whole nuther subject.) When you get thirty of them on a stage, you’ll have at least fifty different opinions on how a scene should be performed.

The secret to good management is knowing when to delegate  and when to control. I saw that perfectly illustrated in a recent rehearsal.

One scene was going particularly poorly and was restarted several times as new problems arose. Finally, all progress came to a halt as the assistant director, choreographer, music director, and several cast members argued about how to proceed.

The director of the play had been watching from the rear for some time without offering much help. After all, he had successfully delegated the responsibility for this scene to several of his underlings. And opening night was only a couple of days away. Finally, however, he realized the situation had reached an impasse.

He ran to the stage from the back of the room. “Hold it, everybody. This is my  decision!” Then he waved his arms in a controlled frenzy. “You go over there. You stay there. You enter from there. Now. Let’s try this again from the top of the number!”

Then he turned around, walked to the back of the room, and took his place on the back row to watch the rest of the rehearsal.

Everything went smoothly from that point forward. The director didn’t seize  control. He restored  control. He knew that he had placed the right people in areas of authority. He gave them all the rope they needed. But he also realized when enough was enough. He exercised just barely enough control to nudge the project back into sanity.

And he provided me with a perfect example of the appropriate way to manage my business, my family, and my life.

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