Accountability LO17429

Simon Buckingham (
Mon, 16 Mar 1998 08:45:53 -0800

Replying to LO17420 --

Fred Nickols wrote:

>.. senior executives are lamenting the lack of accountability below
> their level.
> To me, accountability has a very simple structure:
> Person A answers to Person B for Result C.

There seems to me to be two ways of seeking to make people accountable-
via organizational mechanisms and via market mechanisms. Fred, your
concept of accountability in the above and subsequent text seems to be
organization-driven- all about putting in place the mechanisms in
organizations that make people accountable for the things that management
want them to achieve through reporting relationships and task setting-
these mechanisms can be used to make an individual channel their efforts
in the direction and be accountable for certain specific results.

I was accountable in this way in a previous job and I resented the
existence of the procedures that made me do certain things and did not
reward me for doing other things- I did not like the fact that
accountability meant having a manager breathing down my neck monitoring my
behavior and performance. I soon left, never to return.

In my second job I was completely autonomous and yet completely
accountable. I worked from home without any tasks being set for me
directly. And I worked harder in the market-based accountable environment
because 1. I was accountable to myself- my pride and my conscience and my
interest in the job kicked in, 2. I worked hard because I wanted the job
to continue- I knew that an extended period of time without paying my way
and earning back my wages would endanger the continuance of my freedom, 3.
stripped of the busyness of being awarded for mere presence in an office,
all other people saw was my results- not me, not me in action, just what I

So, there are two ways of achieving accountability- through organizational
mechanisms or market mechanisms. In both cases, you are right to say that
they are social constructs- accountable to other people in the company-
but in the market-based one it is your external reputation and internal
self-worth you are protecting whereas in the org-one it is more hassle
avoidance. It is my personal belief having worked under both that the
market-based accountability is both more humane and more effective.

Hence, if I was consulting for this client I would tell them to implement
market-based and results-oriented accountability programs such as
teleworking programs (, and implement
a customer service charter to set these standards of performance
explicitely (

regards, sincerely, Simon Buckingham, unorganization: business not
@Complete autonomy means complete accountability@ is @


Simon Buckingham <>

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