James Orsini
Nov 13, 2017 · 3 min read

Don’t Delegate… Facilitate By James Orsini – COO, VaynerMedia My wife refers to me as the best delegator she has ever met. Delegation, by definition, is entrusting a task or responsibility to another person who is typically less senior than oneself. In a recent interview I gave on the Meet the Creatives podcast, I was asked about my direct reports as Chief Operating Officer here at VaynerMedia. I explained to the producer that I don’t really have an administrative assistant, nor a staff sitting outside my office awaiting my beck and call. Rather, I help facilitate the actions of 800+ employees across our now 6 offices throughout the VaynerX network. The bigger the network gets, the more I can help get done. Facilitate, by definition, is to make a process easier or less difficult for those involved. It’s a “help forward” notion from a Latin derivation of “easy to do.” This enablement has no class distinction. It’s not about seniority, direct reports, or titles. It is about taking the time to understand what it is WE are trying to accomplish and then helping move everyone forward to achieve that goal. I have seen this gift for facilitation play out in various ways in my professional and personal life, even as recently as yesterday. It started with an early morning meeting with the 108th precinct in Long Island City, New York. Vayner has taken 40,000 square feet in an up-and-coming area in a commercial warehouse being renovated to office facilities. The Precinct room was filled with high-level delegates including the Commissioner, a District Chief, the precinct’s commanding officer, a captain, a lieutenant and various sergeants. My colleagues and I shared our desires to partner with the community, but shared our concerns about safety, traffic, parking, loitering, transportation, etc. We facilitated a dialogue which lead to a series of action points and numerous to-do lists. At least 10 by my count, for many in the room on both sides of the table. We left feeling confident that we had an easy and doable process with a go forward, measurable action plan. This was NOT about delegation. In fact, one could argue several people in that room were “higher ranking” than me. This was about facilitation. In the afternoon, I got an alarming call. My Renovation House Charity needed to close a $10,000 gap before year end. At my suggestion, we quickly developed a plan to leverage winter landscape photos from our Spencer, NY facilities to produce Christmas cards which could be bundled and sold over the next several weeks. We combined that with woodworking efforts from the Rehabilitation residents to produce wooden tree ornaments to be sold during the same period. The $10,000 quickly came in focus. On that call, some will source the photos, some will design the cards and ornaments, some will meet with the printer, some will produce the wooden trinkets, and others will sell. Again, less about delegation to Pastors, Directors, and Staff but more about facilitation of a process to meet the goals at hand. Upon reflection, I have come to find that as a delegator you are limited by your own to-do list in the follow-up, constant supervision, correction, and lifting of the task back onto your own plate. As a facilitator, you help others play to their sweet spot. The to-do list is limitless because it rests not on oneself, but rather on many others. So, to my beautiful wife, whom I love dearly as we approach our 28th wedding anniversary next weekend: You are every bit my partner and peer, not my subordinate. I trust you will now see me in our family life as others have for 30 years of my professional and philanthropic life; that of an expert facilitator, and not merely a delegator.

James Orsini

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Chief Operating Officer