The Accountability Policy

July 26, 2011

Issue 1

Many companies have challenges setting and accomplishing goals because no one in the organization knows who is in charge of a particular task or job. Have you ever left a meeting feeling like there was lots of talk, but no plan to actually accomplish anything, much less any ownership? This “knowing/doing gap” is an exercise in frustration, which will lead to poor results, finger-pointing and eventually become a morale problem.

A way for your organization to avoid the “knowing/doing gap” and be a goal-oriented enterprise is to make sure that every job and every activity has a person responsible for seeing to its completion. Each task — from preparing the financial statements to taking out the trash — needs to have a single name next to it. As Vern Harnish explains in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, “If you can conceive of a job, put someone’s name in it.”

To begin this process, start with an Accountability Chart. It will feel rudimentary, but you will soon discover that much of what needs doing doesn’t have an accountable person doing it! Divide the chart into three columns: The first column lists the activity, the second column identifies the department or group responsible for the activity and the third column has the name of the accountable person. (See sample in figure 1 )

Every department, every program, every deliverable and every task must have a name next to it. That is the person ultimately responsible for completing that task. And, as Harnish says in his book, “there can be no To Be Determined’s.” Be disciplined and specific when assigning accountability.

Once you complete your accountability chart, make sure that every person named on the chart is aware of their responsibility. This is the first step toward reaching your goals and creating an accountable organization.