There’s been a lot of talk about the sharing economy and how it’s revolutionizing the world but the sharing economy is also another type of economy, it’s a delegation economy, one in which desired tasks and services are shared among multiple “bosses.”
Once the ability to delegate was reserved for those in a position of power or influence. Now anyone with money to spend can have a personal assistant, a driver, a chef, or a stylist. If you want to avoid making appointments someone can do it for you. There are even several services devoted to fighting bills and dealing with customer service on your behalf. Some of the hottest startups from TaskRabbit to Uber to Fiverr and Zirtual are all based around the delegation economy.
What does delegation do? Delegation is less about power these days and more about efficiency. Hiring a virtual assistant doesn’t just save you from tasks you don’t like, it frees up you to spend time on the things you want and hopefully also make more money.
It’s not all 100% positive though. Of course if you use the extra time that has been freed up through delegation browsing social media or otherwise wasting it, then you’ve made two mistakes, the first is that you wasted your time, and the second is that you wasted your money because even though the task was accomplished, you squandered the additional time.
There’s also a risk of overall lack of competency over time. If more and more people delegate things that they might normally have handled and gained proficiency in there could be an overall lack of ability to handle certain things. This has been a concern that has been in play since the Industrial Revolution. We’ve gradually lost the ability to sew and make basic home repairs. Meal planning and cooking are increasingly more of a hobby than a daily event. We are starting to see this increasingly in technology where people pay others to monitor their social media and then don’t have the knowledge on how to use the accounts themselves. To some extent lack of competency is a normal part of a growing society that is increasingly specialized but do we then become cogs in a machine? Is there a loss of independence and self-reliance?
Smart delegation is an overall gain for society. It can provide flexible jobs for those who need them and free up other people to do the things that matter to them most. In many ways the act of delegation delivers on the early promise of technology to free us up to do the things we enjoy. It’s up to us to use the time we gain as responsibly and joyfully as possible.