I once heard that ‘Juggling is more about throwing than it is catching’. So, that begs the question- are you throwing at least as much as you’re catching?
One of the hardest things to do, as a hands-on ‘doer’ and coach, is to delegate (throw). In doing so, I’ve violated one of the key learning patterns- failure. You see, by not throwing back to the teams occasionally (well-intended or not), I’ve prevented them some failures
(opportunities to learn).
Back to the question about how many ‘things’ you may be catching and throwing. There is good evidence to support the thought that we as humans, pretty much ‘suck’ at multi-tasking. A study of ‘time spent on task’ by a couple fellas from Harvard Business School revealed that in terms of ‘keeping the plates spinning’, we are at our best, with 2 plates spinning concurrently. After that, time spent on task starts to fall off dramatically, actually making us less productive. We need to know when to catch, and when to throw.
Young kids always make the joke- with two objects, throwing them up in the air and catching them, saying “Look- I’m juggling!” And of course, we placate them and say good job to them, while really saying- “If you aren’t juggling with 3 items or more, you aren’t really juggling.” (secretly, I’ve always known that the best approaches to most things in life were learned by kindergarten age!) Who knew that the little guys got it right?
To that end, if I am going to be a really productive, active coach, I need to only have two plates spinning. 1) observing, and 2) responding (no circumstance to that ordering!). And if I take my own advice from the top- I won’t ‘do’ on the behalf of the team, even if I see failure eminently approaching. Of course, I could ask some leading questions…that
could be considered a ‘throw’, right?
Throw your teams a bone!