Make Something Happen – Establish Accountability!

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Organizational Goals, Problem Solving, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Yesterday I met with a potential client that is looking for problem solving training for his employees.  We discussed the logistics of the training, topics to include, and a variety of other training issues.  He told me his organization would be very quick to say they know the reasons for many of their problems, based on past experience and opinion.  Very few of their problems are addressed by collecting data and good root cause analysis.  They keep applying one band-aid after another.

He then made a statement that made me cringe.  He stated that many times people are torn between trying to solve problems and making daily production.  There’s never enough time to solve problems correctly and somehow we (I) needed to stress to them the importance of good problem solving practices.  It was as if he was looking for me to somehow change the way his employees do their jobs and make them accountable to solve problems.

Accountability is an organizational issue that can’t be solved in a three day problem solving class!  Leaders must instill accountability by being disciplined and establishing priorities.  Over the years I’ve worked with many organizations and the ones I found to be most successful at solving problems were those that were disciplined and made it a priority.  Usually this meant they established a weekly meeting and allowed each project owner 10 minutes to give an update on their respective projects.  The owner or leader would state what progress they had made during the previous week, what they want to accomplish the next week, and if there were any roadblocks they needed help with.  This approach ensures accountability.  No one wants to be embarrassed and tell their leaders they can’t get something accomplished.  

Here are some additional points that can help you make this approach a success:

  • Keep the number of projects to a minimum.  You want to keep the meeting short.  Prioritize the projects you want to work on.
  • The update meeting must be weekly, same day and time.  A weekly meeting keeps everyone on their toes and forces something to happen.
  • Be disciplined!  If you or a project owner are not able to make it, have someone else run the meeting or make the project update for them.
  • Don’t let project inactivity be an excuse!  If a project leader states they weren’t able to get something accomplished due to time or work load, tell them it’s not acceptable.  Set the expectation that you want to see action on a weekly basis.
  • If possible, visit the work area and review the status there.  Give all employees a chance to participate and feel good about what they’re able to accomplish.

Hopefully, you already use an approach like this.  If not, give it a try.  You’ll be amazed at how resourceful and accountable people can be when the expectations are clear, priorities are established, and discipline maintained.  If you use a similar approach or are successful at solving problems using something different, please give us your feedback.  Your comments are always welcome.

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