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Managing Delegation….

by | Sep 15, 2020 | Art Blakey, Delegation, manage

Home » Bands » Jazz » Art Blakey » Managing Delegation….

“Delegation is a math problem.  If you can figure out how to have 5 others do the work you could do even 50 % as well as you, you will be 250% more effective.”  That was the way I was welcomed into the ranks of “management“.  Buried in that simple statement are a number of assumptions that both make math hard… and also, therefore, management 😉  First – can you actually communicate so others actually understand what you need to be done – such that the overhead is “only” 50%.  And second, that you have enough members of the team to get some benefit from having a larger “team”.  And in each of those are a couple of key opportunities to improve Delegation…  

…start with are you clear on WHAT you need?  The actual Task, the problem, or better said particularly if you are working with non-engineers,  the “Solution Opportunity”.  It started with what I now call the “A to Z” approach.  I realized I would ask for A … and get Z.  So after being disappointed, I would realize actually that I didn’t want A… I needed G.  Asking for that I would get T, which was closer, but still not it.  It is M you are going for – halfway from what you thought you wanted, and what the other person delivered. Buried in this are a number of questions to consider:  are you open to being “wrong” – that you don’t actually want A?  And is the person you are working with worth leveraging their insights.  That is – do you want people to simply do what you want… or are you open to “better”?  And don’t answer too fast…. 

…this album shows you how fast things were moving in the mid 50’s in jazz.  Blakey had started working a regular quintet – Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, and Doug Watkins.  Going into the studio was mostly just capturing the work that had been worked and reworked nightly at various clubs around New York.  Coming off his work with Bud Powell, the studio realized that featuring a piano player would likely sell well, so a date was held to record. Blue Note was THE place to issue your albums, which also got you the best engineer on the planet for the next 20 years – Rudy Van Gelder, and more importantly, his parents living room… listed as the Hackensack New Jersey Studio 😉 

Horace would go on to be a major player in Jazz, and this was his first 12 inch album release (from 10 inch 78’s), and the song was his first major “hit”.  The studio didn’t want to release it – it didn’t fit their definition of what they wanted… but all the players were adamant that it showed they could “reach back and play the old style, gutbucket, jazz”… not just the Hard Bob that Bird and others were pioneering coming out of the early 50’s.  He would go on to form his own quintet, as well as playing with other giants of jazz, like Sonny Rollins, Randy Brecker, and Billy Cobham.  He was with the Messengers and Art for only 18 months and left as heroin use had started in the band by this point, and he didn’t want to get involved… 

… I was playing in our church band – rhythm guitar, and as a Bass player, I was trying to keep us on time.  Great – except my son was playing drums – and that was “his job”… and frankly, he was MUCH better at that than I was.  His “request” came at fairly high volume, but was extremely clear.  Was I open to being better?  Yes – and to do that, I had to let go – which is one of the first tricks of Delegation.  The paradox is that the math is such that you want to end up with Zero – on your plate…. and with that work multiplied by those who understand probably better than you what to do, and how to get it done well.  Which then makes your plate look 250% what it was… Today’s song was one of those… where the what they heard became the biggest hit Horace and the Messengers had to date, and launched him into an amazing career of his own.  But… too many words – I don’t need to talk more.  Just listen to … The Preacher. 


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