Holding the Baby…

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

We recently held a meeting of the Baldrige Executive Fellows at Sharp HealthCare. The other presenting organization at this meeting was 2010 Baldrige Award recipient MEDRAD (now part of Bayer HealthCare’s new Radiology and Interventional business). The Fellows learn Baldrige through seeeing it in operation and seeing it through the eyes of CEOs. On this trip it was through the eyes of Sharp and Bayer. By the way, applications are now being accepted for the third cohort of Baldrige Fellows.

But that’s not the topic of this post. I want to talk about something I learned at this meeting from one of the speakers, who talked about “holding the baby.” What a powerful image. Let me explain.

The term I know best is “having the monkey on your back”, meaning you now have the responsibility. You now have had the weight put on your shoulders; you are it! How much better a metaphor is it to talk about holding the baby, meaning that you have taken responsibility, you are now the parent and protector of the baby. Rather than a monkey, you have agreed to accept and nurture the idea, project, team, “the baby you are holding.”

Of course, implicit in this concept is a loving and supportive hand-off, rather than the image of having a weight thrown on you. So, next time you are delegating responsibility consider working with your colleague to transfer the baby from your arms to his or hers, rather than giving them the burden! It has changed my whole concept of delegation. What can it do for you?

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5 Responses to Holding the Baby…

  1. Jan Garfield says:

    Thank you, Harry, for this new analogy and attitude! The concept of delegated tasks as “monkeys” was so pervasive at the college where I worked that I still have a tiny collection of wind-up, stuffed, and plastic monkeys in my top desk drawer. These tiny primates were gifts that accompanied projects delegated to me–a playful approach to transferring a task. I plan to share the improved concept with my colleagues!

  2. Vinod says:

    So very true! & Well said. This is a wonderful metaphor to use in Trainings!. With your permission, I like to use it at appropriate time!

    Thanks for putting it in writing.


  3. Carol Knight-Wallace says:

    Gives a whole different perspective, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing. Now, I can shed those clutching monkeys and replace them with cooing babies.

  4. Pat Nahas says:

    Thank you, Harry, for this insight and perspective. It is a wonderful way of looking at things, which I hope we can spread.

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