Fixing Accountability

Elliott Jaques’ framework gets to the heart of work. In the pursuit of any worthy goal, work is – making decisions and solving problems. As time goes by, headcount increases and soon we have an organization, with organizational problems. Who makes the decisions? Who is accountable for those decisions? Who decides methodology, problem solving? Who is accountable for solving the problem?

Finger pointing and blaming behavior are not quirks of personality. They are symptoms of an organization that failed to define accountability and authority. Who is accountable?

I had a client in the carpet cleaning business. Every once in a while, thank goodness only every once in a while, a carpet technician would ruin a customer’s carpet. Who did my client want to choke up against the wall?

Elliott assumed that carpet technician showed up for work that day with the full intention to do their best. It is the manager Elliott would hold accountable for output.

Elliott assumed the manager hired the carpet technician, trained the technician, provided the tools for the technician, coached the technician, selected the project for the technician. The manager controlled all the variables around that technician. It is the manager that Elliott would hold accountable for output.

We typically place accountability one level of work too low in the framework. It’s the manager who is accountable.

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