Accountability & Resp. LO5867

Scott R. Cypher (
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 08:39:05 -0400

Replying to LO5859 --

No, I haven't seen it discussed recently, and I think it is a critical

>In a conversation with an ex-client this morning we talked about the
>practical problems of changing concepts of accountability and
>responsibility when working in organisations with a systemic view of how
>issues are resolved. Books are very good at saying what needs to be done,
>but, in my experience, are fairly vague when it comes to the brass tacks
>of how it is done. Staff in her organisation are still wanting to
>identify where the buck stops and starts in a fairly traditional sense.

To be open, honest and direct, it never will, the price is higher than
what most individuals are willing to pay. Accountability infers
ownership. Ownership for something that fails is politically undesireable.
Since managers posses discretionary power based on their interdependence
with other parts of the organization, they can choose what to own and what
not to own. Managers aren't dumb. They won't choose projects that are
very risky (most improvement projects). They will choose safe activities
to advocate, or ones that won't hurt thier bonus/promotion potential.
These are systematic design issues in how all subsystems in the
organization (communication, planning, infrastructure, Motivation,
politics, education, measurement, technology, culture) interact. Changing
one subsystems (lets say motivation/rewards/recognition) won't create the
desired accountability. Multiple changes on multiple subsystems are
necessary to create system wide accountability. Specifics on how to do
this are situational, it depends on the assessment of current reality of
the organization, and determination of what the root problem/condition is,
and what is the organization willing to do to design a new system of
interactions that make accountability desireable. Think about Fritz, and
problem resolution vs. creation. Remove the accountability "problem", and
another variation will take its place. Think about what you want to
create such that accountability is desireable. (Not a simple, nor easy

>Most individuals within the organisation are unable to differentiate between
>the complex and the confusing, or work out how to bring about the
>transition from "you" and "me" to "you, me and us". Incidentally this
>organisation has a long history of team based work, with both positive and
>negative experiences

Sounds also like there is need for relationship management skills, how to
evaluate (utility) and not judge (good/bad), how to give and receive
feedback in dyadic relationships, surfacing of trust issues and its
sources, Attitudes of choice vs. Attitude of victimization, and work on
attunement of individuals to the point where they understand each others
role in the organization and how roles interact.

-- (Scott R. Cypher)

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