Authority, Responsibility, Delegation and Escalation – A Crucial Concept


I really really despair of both PMBoK® and PRINCE2®. They claim to guide project management which is a discipline wholly grounded in change and thus authority and thus governance and yet neither displays any comprehension of the underlying principles and the consequential implications and insights required for competence.


So lets examine the concept of authority; its about the right, the ability and the duty to make decisions. When we make decisions in a business context that trigger change then a project is concieved (or amended). It may be a tiny project adequately described ny calling it an activity or a mega endeavour that some would want to call a programme.

Delegation & Accountability

When a manager or leader commissions others to achieve some outcome (of any size from activity thru program) they become a ‘sponsor’ and must:

  1. Know how to verify that they have the result/ impact/ outcome/ output that they wanted
  2. Establish who can create (acqire) it for them (who has the required skill)
  3. Establish that the intended delegate has the capacity and interest to accept the commission
  4. Delegate the Objectve plus Resources plus authority within stated limits otherwise described as ‘Freedoms’ (agree Goal and Constraints)
  5. Establish the path of escalation from the delegatee to them for all issues and requests for care and help
  6. Acknowledge that they have now CREATED an accountability within themslves for the goal and ensure the delegatee knows how to use it through escalation
  7. Respond to take action as instructed by the delgatee as require, when required to achieve the goal.


When a delegatee accepts a commission (becaause they see an advantage for themselves, they have no option, they are coerced, they are happy to do a favour etc) they must:

  1. Know how to validate the result they are creating meets all the acceptance criteria the ‘sponsor’ will apply
  2. Combine their skill and will with the resources provided to create (acquire) the result required within the freedoms imposed
  3. Escalate* instructions to act to resolve issues** to the appropriate point of resolution in a timely manner

* Escalate is normally taken to mean ‘up the management hierarchy’ but also includes ‘up the technical hierarchy’. This relocation of decision making duty may be ‘down’ the management hierarchy.

** An issue is an off plan situation for which the responsible person lacks either the authority or the knowledge or both to deal with.

Relevant Processes in PRINCE2

The dialogue’s salient factors are well handled by PRINCE2’s CS / MP boundary through processes 15.4.1 and 16.4.1 (see slide 87 in this animated presentation) although the escalation process is a dog’s dinner progressing via 15.4.6 and its pretty much absent from the PMBoK Guide!


Logical Model provides B2B training in project based change. Our training and mentoring in #pm_ngt explains the flexible approach and structured steps plus matched tools and techniques that are relevant2reality™ across the end2end™ investment time-line and top2bottom™ span of decision making within all corporate change.
#pm_ngt‘s key differentiators are:
1) You must work to and from the investor’s time-line – that means right to left planning of strategy, left to right planning of tactics and integration of the two and it means deliver the value not follow the process.
2) You must delegate and escalate with understanding of what both are – that means cascade goal + constraint + authority + a helping hand + resources, it means receiving and acting on escalations
3) Use well know standards pragmatically – It means set-aside exam stupidities and use the tools and techniques of D4(r) to define the future_state_Business_As_Usual (fsBAU), use PRINCE2(r) to create a control structure for decision making and use PMBoK Guide tools & techniques to build baselines, monitor performance and respond to achievements, problems, issues and risks
To find out how to tailor a delivery for your needs contact pm_ngt@logicalmodel-dot-net