Blame vs Accountability

Accountability is a basic tenet of EOS. It’s essential to clarify who is responsible for what, top to bottom.

One of the challenges when creating a culture of accountability is to coach managers not to mistake blame for accountability. They are not the same.

The easy response to sub-par performance is to find someone to blame. We find the culprit, deliver a scathing rebuke — often in the presence of others so they also know “we’re serious about results.”

We congratulate ourselves for holding someone accountable. Unfortunately, the effect of blame is to create a “gotcha” culture driven by fear, conflict avoidance, and withholding new ideas. Innovation disappears because people are afraid to speak up.

Here’s the secret: shift from a blame frame to simple inquiry about what happened. Focus only on the core issue at hand —  use the IDS process (Identify, Discuss and Solve). Dig deep to uncover the real issue(s). Discuss what went wrong, and determine the best action(s) to move forward.

Remember, it’s not about whose fault it is. It’s about fixing the problem. You need the engagement of the people who made the mistakes in order to identify and fix what actually went wrong.

True accountability is straightforward, energizing, and keeps the focus on a better future, not a shameful past.

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