Accountability is Forward Looking


Accountability is Forward Looking 

Effective operating systems have a process for assigning tasks daily based on an evaluation of the business’s performance over the past 24 hours.  Lean Consultant David Mann outlines a very effective method: a board with days of the month across the top and team members down the side, which forms a grid and allows assignments to be written on Post-it Notes and placed at the intersection of people and dates.  This method promotes a healthy forward look at accountability.

The backward look at accountability 

Many feel their organizations do not hold people accountable.  In fact, many citizens would argue we do not hold others in society accountable.  Wall Street needs to be held accountable for financial problems. The government should be held accountable for a failing economy.  The thinking is, “There has been a problem and someone needs to pay.  We are going to hunt down those responsible for these problems and hold them accountable.” While this use of accountability is not wrong in context, it can promote a negative feeling in business and leads many to believe their co-workers or leaders are not held accountable.

A forward look at accountability 

David Mann’s method of accountability looks to the future. As a problem arises from an analysis of business performance, a task is assigned to an individual. (A single person, not a group. If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.)  The task is best assigned if it is actually written on the Post-it Note by the person being assigned. And then placed on a future date as a commitment. Again, the person who wrote the task does this.  The leader reserves the right to ask that the task be done earlier.

This method creates an environment that feels more like, “We are counting on you to do this.  You are committing to do complete the task and therefore, you are accountable for completing that task.”

Every member of an organization has to complete tasks that will solve problems, improve the business, or restore safe quality flow of product in a timely manner.  It is critical to running a successful business.  Build a culture that allows members to commit to completing tasks on a given date and count on their peers to do the same.

Help your organization make the shift from seeing accountability as a look in the past at who is to blame to seeing accountability as counting on each other to meet commitments in the future.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” now available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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