Before the start of any project, do you ask yourself, "Are my team members held accountable? Do they feel a personal responsibility to deliver the goods?" If you haven't made the steps to communicate that message yet, it is essential to lay down that foundation in the beginning. For that reason, accountability is the most important of the ten imperatives in Robert's Rules of Innovation. In my book, I describe the ten factors that must be achieved in order to create and sustain Innovation in business -- and it all starts with accountability.
Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions. After all, as the leader of a New Product Development team in any organization, how do you expect your team members to deliver satisfactory results within the desired timeframe? Make it clear from the beginning exactly what is expected of each team member and that they are held accountable for their work. Let your team know that, as members of the organization and members of the NPD team, it is their responsibility to contribute, to pull their own weight and to hold firm to deadlines. Otherwise, deadlines can slip with no real improvements made, and the end result may lead to finger pointing for who's responsible. Don't let that happen to your NPD process.
It is clear to specific individuals and groups what their responsibilities are? Do you define action items at the end of each product development review meeting? These are key steps to implement for a good foundation to achieving Innovation.
If you struggle with accountability, try interim reporting of steps so that when the due date comes the task is completed. Say you want a new design of a product in 30 days at the next NPD meeting, ask for an interim report on sketches a week later, drawing the week following and status of prototype build the week before the due date. No surprises...
When you successfully establish accountability, it leads to great benefits for you such as being able to trust in your team, freeing up time for you to concentrate on strategy, and getting to lead a team that is confident, motivated and ready to take on the next "big thing."
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