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Archive | February, 2010

Accountability | What Does It Really Mean?

When does Accountability begin?

“When is it no longer my responsibility to get people to complete their assignments … and where does their responsibility to perform begin?” a North Bay CEO asked me recently.

“Your responsibility never ends … and neither does theirs,” I said.

“Your job is to work tirelessly to build accountability into the organization so that your team understands that being held accountable is the cornerstone of a strong, successful organization. It is not punitive.”

In this column recently, we’ve discussed personal accountability as the “singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.”

We’ve also discussed the After Action Report, a valuable teaching tool that reinforces accountability and inspires a culture of continuous improvement.

An organization focused on accountability might be seen as the thread that connects our personal accountability – walking the talk – and the After Action Report – talking the walk. But what is it, really?

What is Accountability … Really?

In simple terms, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our actions.

It’s being reliable and making certain that the commitments we make, from the perspective of others, have been kept. For a responsible culture to prevail, each of us must make certain that those commitments are honest – and honored. (more…)

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The Value of Checklists

Checklists? Those lists I prepare each day and don’t help me get everything done – don’t really need to know more about them … or do you mean those checklists that airline pilots use to keep me from getting killed? Now, those I like.

Some of you will remember an earlier post in the GTD context about the value of checklists. Now comes the book, The Checklist Manifesto, inspired by issues found in operating rooms but expanded to the many areas where simple checklists are invaluable.

Checklists couldn’t be simpler. (more…)


Accountability | Powerful After Action Reviews

Man with sack over his headMany years ago when we lived in the Midwest, we became very good friends with a young couple down the street.

He was a fellow fraternity brother, from another college, but I remember him as a very capable physician with a unique ability to describe complex medical subjects in layman’s language.

After Action Reviews are for Learning NOT Blame

One day, he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him on Saturday. He’d show me around, we’d have lunch, hang out. He couldn’t leave for lunch, but he would bring along some homemade sandwiches, bologna with lots of ketchup, he said, and I could sit in his pathology lab as he performed an autopsy … and while he was cutting and sawing, we would enjoy our lunch together.

It was when he started laughing that I realized why my vision of an overloaded bologna sandwich, dripping with ketchup alongside an autopsy table, was kicking up a firestorm in my gut. I think that’s how many business executives view an After Action Review (AAR) — a gruesome business designed to relive the pain of failed projects.  (more…)

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