Accountability is a critical concept in corporate management. I’d like to suggest that there are actually two considerations within this field that need attention:
1) Do you hold people accountable to truly drive the transformation of the organization?
2) Is there a widely held understanding of the temperature on the burning platform?
Organizational accountability systems are the intersection of strategy, processes, and leadership. For this reason, it is worth all of the attention it receives, and then probably some more. Being an art as much of a science (there’s more than one way to do it) you know success more from the long-term fruit of the organization’s business plan rather than what people are telling you up front. The point I’m trying to make here is that appropriate accountability is more than a process issue, it’s an issue of the reach of the aspirations.
Point 1: Are you focused on the things that matter most? Operations are what stand behind strategic aspirations. But, as soon as the focus of an organization is overwhelmed by its own internal issues, (corporate navel gazing) strategy takes a back seat. The competitive strategy is always outward facing, and every opportunity (even internal projects) must always have a connection to an external form of value delivery. Accountability at the highest levels must always link to strategic initiatives. Doing this well ensures that the evolution you’re pursuing matters.
Point 2: Does your business plan reach far enough? There will always be excuses why you could reasonably justify a business plan that doesn’t reach further, and doesn’t challenge your team more. But, there is no reason for employees to pay attention to business plans that don’t describe change. Yes: There is a balance between pushing too hard, and not pushing hard enough. The greater error is not pushing hard enough. Your REAL potential includes adaptations and ideas your organization hasn’t thought of yet, but would if they were inspired to do so.
So, consider both the focus and the reach for what leadership is accountable for. Beyond having “good” processes, you should consider reaching deeper into the realm of what is possible for your organization. Make certain that you’re making people accountable for new potential, not just for keeping the lights on.