Kein Bier vor fünf

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The 4 D's of Leadership and Management

When I was in my early twenties I visited Germany with two of my best mates. We stayed at one of my friends’ Uncles villas on the outskirts of a town called Bingen next to the banks of the Rhine River. One of the things I first noticed when I walked into the villa was the clock on the wall. Instead of the usual numbering – one through twelve – every number on the clock was a five! Written on the face of the clock were the words – “Kein Bier vor fünf”.

When I asked my German mate what the translation was he told me – “No Beer before Five”

I remember laughing heartily at the time but I’ve reflected that it also served as a reminder of being disciplined and sensible. Something we didn’t necessarily adhere to during that trip!

Later, back in my job in Australia, I noticed a colleague of mine would draw a quadrant on the top of each page of his note book/to do list. In each section of the quadrant he wrote a “D”. The four D’s took me back to the clock in Germany with the twelve Five’s. When I asked him what they meant, he told me it was a reminder of his only options for the tasks he had on his to-do list – Do it now; Do it later; Dump it; Delegate it.

The Four D’s is a very powerful technique in Leadership and Management and is covered in the Australis BSB51915 Diploma of Leadership and Management. It assists those managers, who use it, to prioritise their own and their teams’ tasks. Some key points in considering the Four D’s are: –

Do It Now

What do you need to deal with now? What’s vital? What’s superfluous? Consider your job purpose and the key areas of the role (Key Performance Indicators can help with this focus) to help you decide what you should be working on.

However, don’t just focus on the ‘big ticket items’ consider these other techniques of doing things now that can be helpful:-

  • Handle the little things that reduce concentration and cause anxiety, like the clutter on your desk and the incomplete jobs. This is the opposite of prioritising. Do the quick and dirty tasks NOW! The crises in our lives are often the result of not handling the little things or not reacting to a niggling feeling that something is wrong. Ignore the little toothache and you wind up with a root canal!
  • Another technique is to handle the worst things first. We create more stress and anxiety, and waste more time and energy, over the things we least like to do so why not just do them?
  • When things feel overwhelming, break the task into smaller steps and then start. Like the old adage says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Do It Later

Similarly, there are certain things that can wait! There might be a better time in the day to do it (eg reading a work journal as a break from a project), things that are waiting on others input (eg clarity on business direction before you get too far down the track) or things that are just not as important as other things on your list (eg having a catch-up coffee with your boss can wait until Friday).

However, if you have deadlines, ensure others meet their deadlines as well. Don’t let someone else’s lack of planning short-circuit your deadlines.

Dump It

Get rid of things you don’t need to do. This will take some practice and a hard-nosed approach especially if you have a tendency to hang on to stuff, thinking doing the task might help out in some way. If dumping tasks is too difficult, ask someone else’s opinion before deleting it from your to-do list.

Delegate It

Don’t waste your time doing things that somebody else can do, especially if they can do them better than you. Save your time for those things which you are uniquely qualified to do.

There are many elements to Leadership and Management but some of the most important ones are planning, prioritising and monitoring your progress. All of which are addressed through the Four D’s process.

Australis College provides a variety of business and management programs aimed at providing individuals and businesses with the knowledge, skills and tools to make a positive impact in their job roles, careers and personal lives. The information in this article is from the BSB51915 Diploma of Leadership and Management. For more information on Australis and our programs please visit our website by clicking here for more information and to get started today.