As companies and organizations pursue innovation to transform themselves from what they currently are or offer, to what they want to become or provide the marketplace, accountability is the rudder that steers pursuits and prevents a wandering, directionless ship.
Wikipedia defines "Accountability" as part responsibility and answerability, liability and enforcement, blameworthiness and consequences. "Accountability is defined as 'A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A's (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct."
Whether an independent endeavor or one pursued with the counsel of an Innovation Coach or consultant, accountability within a team is like the principle that guides a group of mountaineers. Each member is tethered to the same length of climbing rope. Each climber lends stability and confidence to the next. But slippage jeopardizes the entire team. One member slips, and while the team is there to catch and recover, the group nonetheless becomes vulnerable.
Accountability is owning up to what's yours -- earning kudos when things go right, and shouldering the blame when things go wrong. For the organization in pursuit of innovation, no component is more critical than the trust borne of accountability. It's team members holding to deadlines, having your back, or adhering to schedules so the team can advance as a whole.
How should your organization infuse the concept of responsible accountability throughout the enterprise? The following methods can be highly effective at inculcating a culture of Innovation Accountability in an organization . . .
- Give Them Enough Rope To . . . Allow team members decide "how" projects or tasks will get done. Should they get off track, guide them back.
- It's Expected: From the start, tell team members what their responsibilities are.
- We Know that You Know the Answers: Don't create organizational co-dependency. Step back. Let your people come up with the solutions.
- Tread Lightly on the Gas Pedal: Once the initial role of providing direction and support is over, build your team's confidence by backing out of the situation.
- Skinner Was Right: Positive reinforcement works. When your team, or a team member, does well, lavish praise.
In a corporate environment, each team member must feel a responsibility to deliver, to be held accountable, to make good on expectations. This level of accountability is about culture. It's about buy in. It's about people knowing their roles, and the limitless possibilities -- and positive personal rewards -- of jobs performed in an organization guided by the rudder of accountability.