Teaching Smart vs. not LO13569

Rol Fessenden (76234.3636@CompuServe.COM)
09 May 97 23:23:14 EDT

Replying to LO13540 --

Subject:Teaching Smart vs. not LO13540

Michael is suspicious of accountability:

"Accountability speaks to me of green eyeshades and large ledgers. Of
counting up and assessing the value of the person. Dr. Deming spoke of
the role of the process or system. He said counting widgets and exhorting
higher production from workers in a process that was in control was
fruitless. The system controlled the output, with only normal cause
variation. If you want higher output, focus on improving the system, not
telling the workers to produce more. Accountability in large organization
practice really revolves around blame setting. If I am accountable, and
something does not work, I am at fault. Forget that the system had flaws
and balancing loops that prevented me from achieving that for which I am
accountable, it is my "fault". I have been there, and I have held and
been held accountable many times. Never have I felt that holding or being
held accountability helped or encouraged my or any other's learning.
Aren't we really talking about sharing a vision, and being committed to
learning from every failure so that we can further advance the cause
towards that shared vision?"

Yes and no. Let's forget for a moment the limitations of Deming's work.
Ben's original posting was in essence asking people to be responsible for
learning, nothing more nothing less. Is it fair to hold a professional
accountable for learning? "What have you learned today?" Absolutely.

Another phenomenon that was rare in Deming's day is that many people make
life-style decisions about how much or how hard they will work. I respect
that, and I have done it myself at key times in my children's lives. This
can become problematic when a person decides to cut back to the point that
they no longer are doing a fair day's work for the pay they are receiving.
It is most problematic to those in the same job who are working harder or
much harder for the same pay. A manager who does not deal with this
situation is letting down the people who are working the expected amount
Or in the expected way. Again, this sounded to me like the kind of
situation Ben might have been dealing with.

On the other hand, many organizations do practice "blaming" as you say. In
my experience, this is not what accountability is about, but I agree that
if can be misused in that way. You said, "If I am accountable, and
something does not work, I am at fault." I would modify it slightly: "If I
am accountable, and something does not work, and I learn nothing, then I
am at fault."


Rol Fessenden 76234.3636@compuserve.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>