This is the final post of a four-part series on accountability. This week, we look at what may seem like the most obvious step of all. We are following the principles from “The Oz Principle“, by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman. The first three steps were “See It“, “Own It” and “Solve It“. Now that you have come up with a solution, you just need to push through and deploy the solution. It’s time to act! Or as Nike likes to say, “Just Do It”!!
Promoting a culture where people “just do it” may seem simple. But in many organizations, red tape and bureaucracy get in the way of actual implementation.
What does it mean to “Do It”?
Doing it means following the mantra popularized by Larry the Cable Guy and just “Git ‘er done”. I always think back to one of my first actions in a small business after years of corporate life. I had come to a much smaller organization (less than 100 employees) and was working with a network engineer to improve the quality of our network and wireless systems. We identified a few simple solutions that would cost about $10,000. I went to my peer who was in charge of all admin and purchasing. I asked her what the process was for requisitioning this equipment. She looked at me like I was from another country. “You just order it”, she said.
I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make sure it was okay, so I checked in with my boss, the CEO. He asked me “do we need it”. “Well, yes”, I said. “This will take care of most of the problems we have been experiencing”. “Okay, then let’s get it in here”, was his response.
After two decades of corporate life, I was amazed by the idea. Basically, the rule of thumb was this. If we can afford it and need to do it; we just do it. What a shocking revelation!
The Benefit of Getting to Do It
It’s amazing how many people get to this point and then do not follow through. The sad part is that this is where the real benefit of accountability comes in. Up until this point, accountability is basically about taking responsibility for pushing the process along. Now, when you get to this step, this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you get to actually see your plans in action. This is where all four steps come together and you see the fruits of your labor.
Why don’t they do it?
But too many times, the follow-through doesn’t happen. For various reasons, the very last step stalls and this all-important last step of accountability fails. Why is that? Often it’s fear. Fear of “what if it doesn’t work”. Or all too often, “what happens if it really works?”. Sticking your neck out and following through takes courage and conviction. This is the point where finger-pointing and second-guessing comes into play.
Another cause of not doing it is bureaucracy. How often have we heard about opportunities to fix issues (especially in the government sector or in large businesses), only to have paperwork and process get in the way? Don’t get me wrong, I love having processes in place. But processes should enable us to get work done, not get int he way. I see this all the time in corporate IT. While we need the necessary checks and balances to ensure security and data quality. We often sacrifice “done” on the “altar of perfection”. If your business processes prevent an implementation from happening, then you may be experiencing this right under your nose.
Another challenge of this step is that this is also the point where we run into the most problems. As much as we try to identify issues and concerns in the “solve it” phase, we really don’t know what we are up against until we start to actually do it. So we hit snags, we encounter issues and we have to fight the urge to slip back below the line. You remember below the line, right? That’s where people blame others and make excuses. They are negative and look for reasons to fail. But you have to remain the victor and stay above the line. Otherwise, all of the work through the first three steps have been for naught.
Can anyone just “do it”?
In the book, the Oz Principle, they tell the story of when Teradata was rolling out their first computer. A great example of accountability and the “do it” step was exemplified by a truck driver. It seems their shipment was 500 pounds overweight for legal shipment. The truck driver, knowing how critical this shipment was, dismantled part of his truck and hid the parts in a ditch by a truck stop! Taking this risk, he guaranteed that the critical shipment would be made on time! Talk about accountability! This truck driver didn’t know anything about data warehousing, but he understood what it meant to be accountable for his delivery to arrive on time.
How to Implement a “Do It” Culture?
There are several steps you can take to drive a culture that promotes the fourth step of accountability. Here are a few ideas:
- Create processes that allow for the free-flow of information up, down and across the organization. When people communicate freely, things get done.
- Drive reasonable and meaningful processes and checkpoints that enforce accountability without stifling action. (Hint, this usually means that auditors and financial people do not control your change management processes).
- Encourage, reward and promote people who demonstrate all four stages of accountability – See It, Own It, Solve It AND Do It.
No better time than now
Just do it! With many of our workforce stuck in situations where we are working from home, many are feeling unproductive. Now is a great time to push for creative solutions so your company can not only survive, but thrive once this is behind us.
If you’d like to learn more about this, message me at 502-724-0430, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.