One of my first bosses introduced me to a little book called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I don’t even remember what the “e” stands for: Entrepreneurial, I think? But, what I do know is that it completely changed the way I thought about my work and I use the concepts in it every single day (more than 10 years later).
I was 23 years old and became the sole full time fundraiser for the 3rd largest political party in the country, The Libertarian National Committee. I had some staff to help me with gift processing and handful of interns but largely it was my show. I have no idea what made them think I was capable of this endeavor but I’m grateful for the myriad experiences that I got and the skills I couldn’t have otherwise developed. In particular, I was responsible for the management and cultivation of a monthly giving program that was the lifeblood of the organization.
But, because it was really just me running the show, I think the Executive Director was a bit worried about the plan all being in my head. The classic question, “What if you got hit by a bus?” was one that he posed to me. He gave me the E-Myth to get me thinking about these issues.
The E-Myth proposes that you shouldn’t always be working yourself out of a job. Yes, that’s right. You should document every routine task that you do so completely and thoroughly that you can delegate it to anyone and with minimal training they could execute the task in your place.
I was hooked. Here was a way for me to empower my gift processors and interns to help me and reduce my daily stress and chaos. Process documentation is also the path to getting promoted. It is succession planning at its finest.
It’s also just good management. You not only do the process documentation for your job but require that all of those who report to you do it as well. Now you have the basis for real accountability and knowledge of what everyone is doing at work.
Today, process documentation is easier than ever to do efficiently and effectively. With screenshots and screen capture video software, you can train anyone to do routine computer button pushing tasks with complete accuracy.
I highly recommend the E-Myth and encourage all organizations to begin the process of documenting their routine tasks. Creating an annual calendar of work with an accompanying training manual or video series seems dry and boring, but I assure you it changes the way you and all of those on your team approach the work. It is a productivity boost and an insurance policy all in one.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.