A significant problem in many businesses is trying to determine who is ultimately responsible for a project’s success. The problem isn’t in that there’s no accountability but in the realization that too many people are responsible for the results.
In their book What The Heck Is EOS?, Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer explore the topic of accountability in one of the chapters.
In chapter 4 of the book, titled Who’s Doing What?, Wickman and Bouwer said:
If everyone is accountable, then no one is.
The Problem WIth Everyone Being Accountable
It sounds like a dream come true. Everyone on your team wants to be accountable for results. They believe they own every project they’re working on.
Truth be told, they don’t.
There’s an old saying that goes like this: There are too many cooks in the kitchen.
I believe Wickman and Bouwer are saying the same thing when they say if everyone is accountable, then no one is.
We cannot have everyone working for us be accountable for the same job.
What happens when everyone is accountable for results? Fingers begin to get pointed.
That doesn’t help you or the organization. It also creates dissent amongst your people.
Take the accountability away from everyone. Do this instead.
Who Is Accountable?
Create a clear accountability structure:
Whenever a project launches, decide who is accountable for results. This person owns the project. They are the ones who will be called upon to explain a failure or delay in the project.
There will be others who are working on the project. They may have some culpability in issues that arise. However, they are not the final point of accountability.
The only one who is accountable for the results is the person who owns the project.
Outline functions and roles:
Beneath the accountable person will be people working on the project. They will each have defined functions and roles. According to Bouwer and Wickman, outlining these two pieces of the organization will help those people working on a project to understand where they fit into the bigger picture.
Clearly defining functions and roles frees up their creative energies to focus on what they can accomplish.
They will still be held accountable for their work, but they won’t be held accountable for the whole project.
As you begin working towards a better accountability system, you will have to be flexible.
Functions and roles will change. Maybe the direction of the project will too.
Being flexible will help you get through the changes. Your flexibility will also help you navigate accountability.
You will still know who is responsible for what. The responsibility won’t change.
Use these three actions to help create a more accountable organization. Your organization will see success and growth without confusion when you know who is responsible for what.