February 28, 2012
This is the second article in a six-part series based on the material from the book, The Accountable Executive, expected to be released in the Spring of 2012. In this series, Hal Johnson and Ed Street of LeadershipOne, address what they observe as major contributors to low accountability cultures — which they have observed as a meaningful area of struggle in many mid-market companies — and the antidote. Additional articles in the series can be found here: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
Establishing The Vision And Aligning Activities
When we think of effective direction in a business setting, our thoughts tend to run to strategic planning. That makes sense, since one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an accountable executive is to assure the enterprise has good direction and related activities are in alignment with that direction. The well established processes found in the strategic planning cycle are sound — when fully embraced. Following the sequence of vision --> goals --> strategies --> projects --> implementation is a proven formula for creating effective direction. However, according to research at the Harvard Business School, only about 10% of companies do well with the implementation part. And, mostly, this is attributable to lack of accountability.
Building an organization committed to the highest performance standards demands more than just good intentions: it also requires fostering practices that create an environment of clarity, commitment, and accountability. Without healthy accountability, an enterprise loses one of the key elements of management — predictability.
What Is Accountability?
We are glad you asked, because there seems to be a lack of uniform clarity.
- It's a commitment — a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and the people around you, to deliver specific defined results. It reflects a winning attitude of "you can count on me."
- Producing results — results are important so mere activity is not enough.
- It is meaningless without consequences. Both positive and negative. Not responding to unaccountable behavior is the first step in a downhill slide of performance.
- At the top level, it assumes a proactive and conscious commitment to the purpose of the organization, manifested by clarity, transparency and participation, which enable contribution.
The adjuster's call was exactly the kind of call that excites all defense attorneys who enjoy defeating fraud. With the excellent teamwork of the adjuster, carrier, Special Investigations Unit department, investigators, District Attorney and our office, another "bad guy" got his comeuppance.
An accepted claim filed by a long-term employee, the matter was initially suspicious solely because of the timing. The claim was filed shortly prior to the employer, a car dealership, going out of business. As such, the adjuster kept her eyes and ears open for any other evidence of foul play ... and that awareness soon proved invaluable. Research uncovered more red flags, including reports the applicant was a long-time motorcycle racer. Investigations confirmed he was continuing to race and we caught our first major break with film at the track.
Time for popcorn and celebration?
No — as we viewed the film for the first time, we learned — to our collective dismay — the sub rosa failed to actually show applicant's face.
Had we been checkmated?