Vol. 60: Creating a Responsible Culture

Build a Responsible CultureLast time, we discussed how to create a responsible culture where each individual accepts accountability for their actions and decisions.

In our discussion of this subject, we’ve ranged from the baseline of personal accountability to a broader organizational culture, to the battle-tested power of after action reviews.

So, if the power of an accountable organization is so obvious, why aren’t we all doing it?

Victimization has a stranglehold on American business

In “The Oz Principle,” a book by Craig Hickman (recently reissued in a revised and updated edition 10 years after its original publication), the overgrown roots of a victimization mentality is chronicled as one of the most corrosive forces in American business.

[pullquote]The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.~ Lou Holtz[/pullquote]

Mr. Hickman pulls no punches in deriding the plight of victimization that he believes has a stranglehold on American industry.

How many of these lines have you heard during your business career?

* “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
* “That’s not my department.”
* “Someone should have told me not to do that.”
* “Why didn’t you ask me?”
* “Nobody’s followed up on this. It can’t be that important.”

[pullquote]Victimization is a corrosive force in American business[/pullquote]

It’s fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit, isn’t it? (more…)

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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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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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Competence. Confidence. Caring. You’re done!

conference-tableBy now, you know that the Sunday NY Times Corner Office series is oft-quoted here to highlight varying aspects of leadership that flow from Adam Bryant’s conversations with notable CEOs and business leaders.

This week he interviewed William Green, Chairman and CEO of Accenture. Read it in its entirety as a refresher on important elements of leadership.

Green reminds us that there is an abundance of talent that we’re not mining … (more…)

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Remember the song, Mr. In-Between?

leadership-compass-blueUsually, when we remember this song, we think of someone “straddling the fence”, trying to be all things to all people, teetering on the edge of indecision and inaction … or someone who always takes the “middle of the road” and commits to nothing.

Are you Mr. Inside or Mr. Outside?

Gill Corkendale writes in the HBR blog that leaders tend to be either Mr. Inside or Mr. Outside when they really need to focus on being Mr. In-Between, creating an essential “balance” among their varied responsibilities.

It’s true that we all drift toward our comfort zone, doing what we enjoy and are good at, often ignoring the more tedious, even painful tasks that remain critical to our success.

This Checklist will help you Assess Your Role

She offers a simple checklist to help you evaluate where you are on this continuum. (more…)

Continue ReadingRemember the song, Mr. In-Between?