Delegation Poker


Use Delegation Poker to clarify who’s responsible for what and to what level. This is a method where you can encourage employee engagement through controlled self-organization and clarified value and decision-making.

The objective of Delegation Poker is to drive home the idea of delegating decisions and tasks to your team within a controlled environment. It also is a good collaboration game. Many teams play it without even totalling points and more than anything else it’s a conversation topic and a starting point for the discussion of who should do what.

    Delegation is not a binary thing. There are plenty of “shades of gray” between being a dictator and being an anarchist.

    Delegation is a step-by-step process. You hand over accountability to other people in a controlled and gradual way.

    Delegation is context-dependent. You want to delegate as much as possible but if you go too far chaos might unfold.



I discovered this dynamic a long time ago and as Jurgen Appelo says:

"delegation is not easy. Managers often fear a loss of control when considering to allow teams to self-organize, and creative networkers sometimes don't know how to self-organize. A delegation board enables management to clarify delegation and to foster empowerment for both management and workers".

The dynamic are explained bellow:

I consider it completely indispensable when you start any kind of transformation in a client or company. In this way people will know their levels of delegation, it is a self-knowledge and self-learning.

I always follow the dynamic to the letter, because it has a lot of potential. Initially we read the 7 levels of delegation and explain its context, why it applies and what is the motivation of each level of delegation. This dynamic is very indicated for medium-high levels so that they themselves know themselves at their level of delegation.



always follow the dynamic to the letter, because it has a lot of potential and from this point improve continuously. Initially we read the 7 levels of delegation and explain its context, why it applies and what is the motivation of each level of delegation. This dynamic is very indicated for medium-high levels so that they themselves know themselves at their level of delegation.

Here is a series of case studies and their level of delegation, we open a small debate about what they think of  these conclusions or scores.



Finally we added a Delegation Board on a blackboard to add scores. We detail bellow:

Later we work on a series of examples that we detail bellow:

- Create the architecture, a professional development team will build, monitor and regulate traffic with traffic lights in a new development of 10.000 inhabitants. What level of authority would you give the team?

- Choose a new CRM tool for the company, the existing one has reached its limit and does not satisfy the needs anymore, a team will direct the study of the tool that best adapts, impact and its implementation. What level of delegation would you give to the team?

- Organize an event, we have been ordered to create a team of employees to fill a night of games for all employees in the office, ther is a fixed budget. What level of delegation would you give the team? So during 10 situations that arise!

Following the steps of the dynamic, each members eads a case, them chooses the level of delegation that he considers appropiate, and the letters selectd by each one are shared.

Everyone earns a point except the major or minor minority (the extreme cards that have come out in a unique way), between the major and minor cards the conclusions are discussed and put in common. The scores obtained are added to the Delegation Board that we finally share.



Delegation poker allows people to see how they are overloaded or not and how to generate strategies that allow certain tasks to be delegated in an orderly and experimental manner to their teams, people or colleagues. In this way we help generate a collective awareness of delegation and the importance of time used productively. 


The disadvantage of this dynamic and that with certain people it can come back to haunt you like a boomerang is that there can be situations where the participants want to run too much or to cut corners. They can see themselves reflected in levels of delegation 1 or 2 and want to immediately reach levels 4 or 5. By conviction or simply because of stress, workload and seeing it as a way to free themselves from their "backpack of responsibilities". You have to work hard on this part and help them establish a change journey, where if they find themselves in that situation, they go step by step improving their level of delegation, one so as not to disappoint themselves in the change and the other so as not to generate concern or opinions. mistaken in the people on whom they delegate in new levels carried out until now.


Some examples of feedback received are:

The level of learning is absolutely beautiful and very good!

People know themselves at their delegation levels! Such statements as:

"I never thought I would have this level of delegation."

"I never imagined that I would delegate so much."

"I have a lot to work on to be agile because I didn't think I had this level of control."

It can go well:


For 3 months, an exercise of delegation with the managers was carried out, with a series of tasks that will be carried out both by you and by your teams. It was defined what both the team and the manager perceived as a secure context for their teams with a written agreement:


- Feel safe at work to comment.

- To be able to give and receive comments without feeling bad, aggrieved or scared.

- Reduction of the levels of political decisions, giving space to the team to have greater autonomy.

- Acceptance of failure and encourage continuous learning depending on the situation.

Subsequently, the issues were applied with manager delegation poker and with teams in reverse, what level of delegation would give you more autonomy in your work to improve?

Managers were asked What should they do or what should happen so that their level of delegation goes from an X to an X + 1?


This dynamic was performed in cases such as:

- Equipment estimates.

- Distribution of tasks within teams.

- Situations of disagreement between the team leader and team members.

- Experience of specialized profiles within a team to help and collaborate in the team without being a bottleneck.


Initially with 3 more "early adopter" managers, the level of delegation they had in the previous tasks was transparent, as well as the level of delegation their teams perceived. In addition, the possible "solutions" or advice to improve their level of delegation by both parties were also transparent.

Was it evaluated monthly how the month had gone in a retrospective and how should I continue iterating? What has worked? What has not worked? Why? How would we help?

With 2 other managers, their delegation levels were not transparent, but the possible measures or solutions that would help.

It can go wrong:

In some cases it has happened that the person does not want to delegate directly and the conversation can be confiscated.

I try to move it to an exercise of empowerment of the Why?

What do you feel if you delegate at an n + 1 level.

That prevents delegating at an n + 1 level.

In these cases, I have had to do this part in private, practically accompanied by a 1 to 1 coaching session.


My opinion is, the main learning is that through transparency and empathy between groups of people, collaboration is generated, a shared purpose of help and improvement to row everything in the same direction. It is also true that in certain groups this process is very difficult or slower, but you always work from the empowerment of the delegation:


- I want to delegate you with an X level and I give you that power.

- I think I want to be delegated.

- We have the capacity to receive that delegation, or in case of not having them, they will allow us and guide us to obtain them.


Synergies can be generated, beautiful discussions about the root cause of their level of delegation, they are compared with the rest of the people and establish ties to face future situations or possible "experiments" to be applied and receive subsequent feedback with follow-up always to help in their Delegation levels Accompaniment! Accompaniment! Accompaniment!



To empathize and be compassionate with your colleagues (compassion as helping people to improve in the face of a problem they experience) I have always done this dynamic with myself. And I repeat it quarterly reviewing my responsibilities and the levels of delegation that I perform. It serves me to consciously help me establish guidelines and activities that improve my levels of delegation in an iterative and incremental way as continuous improvement.

Lately I have been doing quite a few coaching sessions with several managers and I apply my learning with them through this dynamic. Initially, when they tell me that they are very saturated, with too much work, I make them detail what they do on their day of the week, what they consider to be their responsibility and what tasks they consider to be outside their scope of action. At that moment I explain the dynamics of Delegation Poker and for each activity I ask them to indicate what level of delegation they have. Then I ask them to say what level of delegation they would like to have, in a later round I visually make them place these actions in value of cost (effort that you make today to do that activity) impact (benefit for you and for the party in the one you delegate), in this part I help you with questions like why? What is the purpose? What would enable you to delegate in that way? How do you enable the person you delegate to? Does the other party have the skills, knowledge and desire to be a delegate?

Once this part is done, the person is already aware of the cost of their tasks and what impact delegation will have. From there we go step by step: "choose the highest priority with the highest current cost for you and the greatest benefit impact for both parties". What level of delegation are you at? What level of delegation would you like to have? Perfect, what do you need to reach the level of delegation you are on + 1 (from consulting to agreeing).

Next, the person establishes their roadmap, what activities they have to do, who they need help from and who they have to involve, and we begin to involve the parties.

Later, every week or 2 weeks, depending on availability and difficulty challenge, we have the coaching session again and see how the actions carried out have had an impact.

So far the experience has been very positive, they have broken the cycle of "I don't have time, I don't have time", they reflect, experiment and improve their time management and expectations in their role, just like what is happening to me continuously.




We are carrying out a coaching and mentoring program where we are going to apply delegation poker and its matrix to make each coachee aware in this process of how time thieves exist and how to make their time management much better, so that they can become true leaders and focus on what really matters.

We have done a pilot with several managers in the last 2 months and we have so far managed to get them to delegate 1/3 of daily activities to their teams, empowering them and measuring the satisfaction of both managers and teams, and the feedback is so positive that we will expand to more levels. Some comments received are: Why hasn't this been done before? or "Now I understand a lot about my manager's job and why he was so busy doing things that I could do."