Do you ever ask a group of people
or an individual, to go away,
and come up with a new idea,
a solution to a problem,
or just a new way of doing things,
and ask them to bring it back for approval?
Or do you get asked to do that?
Let me introduce the concept of pre-approval,
the idea that you miss out on that last step.
You approve the solution before they have thought of the solution.
Make sense? Let me explain it a bit.
This slide is of a cafe,
and we have a 19-year-old in charge of it,
who came to us one day and said she'd like to improve it.
So instead of asking her to deliver a plan,
or working with them on it,
we agreed on a budget,
had a quick chat about look and feel, and left her to do it herself.
First time I saw it was when I walked in and saw it looking like this.
This is the "after," and I rather liked it.
But crucially, just think how that 19-year-old,
three months into her first job,
felt walking into that cafe every day.
The motivation it gave her,
the commitment it gave her,
the eagerness to innovate and try new stuff.
Now, I had one of our trainers -
we were training an organization -
and one of our trainers some years ago sent me an email saying,
"I love the three things you've done
to make life easier for me and to make it easier to serve the customers."
I looked at those three things,
and a couple of things struck me.
The first thing that struck me was I had no idea that it happened.
They hadn't come across my desk for approval.
But secondly, I noticed that if they had come across my desk for approval,
I'd have rejected to them
because I thought up most of the ways to do things at Happy.
I set up the company. I used my best thinking.
I think my thinking is pretty good.
So I am a natural barrier to change like most managers.
You know how you get something as a manager, a proposal.
Well, it sits on your desk,
and, well, of course, you improve it, don't you?
Except actually any time you've put up a proposal to your manager and had them improve it,
it isn't always a great experience.
But the only way to get out of it, I decided,
was to make sure it doesn't come across my desk.
So let's take our website.
Our website is crucial. At Happy, we don't do sales people; we don't advertise.
So we get business either,
through word-of-mouth or through the website.
So I'd always, in the past,
been very involved in the website.
I'd say, "Well, why don't we do this,
or take this away, or put that there, or let's have this."
That impact is familiar, namely the idea that the person in charge of the website
actually never really felt in charge because I was interfering.
So this time, we decided to pre-approve the website.
That doesn't mean we said,
"Do whatever you like." That's crucial.
We're talking about freedom within guidelines.
We had a branding exercise to check the look and feel,
to agree on the look and feel of the website.
We agreed on the metrics it would be judged on: how many people visited
and how much income it generated.
Johnny, who was put in charge,
went on the best search engine optimization training, so he had the skills.
Another one of the guidelines was he had to be talking to the users.
We didn't need to know what they were saying,
but we need to know the conversation was happening.
I saw that new website for the first time the night before it launched.
Too late to change anything -
it either went up or it didn't -
and it wasn't what I expected.
So why was it like that? I wouldn't have done that.
That's the key point - if you truly delegate,
you do not get what you would've created yourself; you get what they create.
But it was completely within the guidelines,
so I could argue. Up it went.
When we got the stats, a couple of months later,
visitors had trebled, and income had doubled,
even without the benefit of my expertise.
Because, of course, instead,
you had a really motivated person who felt complete ownership.
That's what we're talking about - how you create real job ownership.
So think for a moment. What could you pre-approve?