Omaha OD Network
Meeting notes from January 10, 2007 meeting
“Accountability: You Can Count On It!”
Discussion Topic 1: When you hear the word “accountability,” what does that mean to
- it’s like “responsibility on steroids” – taking it beyond what you’re responsible for to a
feeling of ownership
- is values-based, values like truthfulness, integrity, genuineness
- taking ownership of the actions and outcomes
- “The buck stops here.”
- the action of setting up systems and processes to enable accountability
- it’s both external and internal – external is the systems in place to ensure internal
accountability, which is the values. Internalized ownership, “choice”
- if it’s just external programs (e.g. performance management system) in isolation, it’s
often flawed, resisted, “forced”)
- it comes down to choice. Is forced accountability still accountability?
- it’s often used to manage risks, when you list out exactly what you will do, it becomes a
“zero sum game” where risks are differentiated (e.g. I’m accountable for this, but not for
that), If the accountability is broader, it can be looked at holistically where all share
accountability for the outcomes
- it’s so vast and varied in meaning – when you’re working with others to seek or create it,
you really need to clarify what you mean by it so you’re working toward the same thing
Discussion Topic 2: Share a high point in your career when you were most impressed
with the accountability displayed by an organization or an individual. What were the
underlying principles driving or supporting that accountability?
- you feel more loyalty to someone who “screws up” and admits it, makes it right
- putting ego aside for the project’s success (putting self-interest aside for the greater
- emotional attachment – a value
- commitment in crisis – needed a process to help
- part of their mission, taking whatever action was necessary to live out the company’s
mission, to “do the right thing” even if takes heroic effort
- caring, compassionate community
- cascading effect – works in the shadow of the leader
- WILLINGNESS – taking it upon yourself to change, to admit there are areas you can
grow in, working diligently to make those changes
- rising to someone’s expectations
- taking a risk
- accountable for others being off-track – accountability not only for own actions, but also
- transparency, there are no agendas; altruistic in appearance vs. self-centered,
Inspiring story shared about the president of Nebraska Wesleyan giving his 2006 bonus to
help fund installation of sprinkler systems in all student housing
Inspiring story of OPPD employees volunteering to take extra shifts and work late into the
night in order to assist efforts in restoring power to partner’s customers in central Nebraska.
Discussion Topic 3: If you had 2 wishes granted that would enable more accountability
within your organization, what would they be?
- Clear communication that everyone “gets”. That way everyone understands what their
work is, what they are accountable for.
- same definition of accountability, shared understandings
- clarity about the outcome, boundaries
- if you have a clear picture, you’ll move in that direction
- not being hierarchical
- known consequences to actions
- building trust…
- that people will admit when they make a mistake, say what they’re going to do
differently in the future, and then follow through
- there is more accountability if people are passionate about their jobs – have a “career
amnesty” day where people can get out of positions they’re not suited for and step into
ones they’re passionate about, without repercussion!
- Set an organization up from the beginning for accountability – hiring and on-boarding
processes that focus on people understanding what the organization believes about and
expects regarding accountability
- Glorious Failure Award! Employees are honored if they give great effort, but there is
failure for some reason out of their control. Encourages risks.
- Get at people’s hearts
- transparency – let go of history and begin to trust, having common goals
- common commitment to collaborate (“check egos at the door”)
- Courage to communicate, talk to each other
- comfort with mistakes as learning opportunities
- permission to voice dissenting opinion
AHA!!s from the morning’s discussion
- more inspired to be accountable!
- the value of having leadership showing their integrity – VISIBLE, PUBLIC,
- Good message for CEOs and all leaders. Very important for leaders.