Saturday, December 03, 2005

Taking Ownership

What drives you crazy at work? If you performed a pareto analysis of the things that unnerve you, what would the top five look like?

Somewhere in my top five would be the failure of people to take ownership of responsibilities and their actions. Such a culture breeds finger pointing and is not conducive to creating and maintaining a world class organization. The symptoms are numerous quality problems, disgruntled employess, and dissastified customers.

If something belongs to you, own it! If you feel like it doesn't belong to you, politely push back but do so through your manager. If you don't truly own it, you may need to temporarily until the system can be fixed (by management). Now, if your manager does not support you, this is another story.

If you make a mistake, admit it and move on! Don't worry about the consequences. Figure out why the mistake was made and take actions to prevent future occurrences.

I read this quote in today's paper. It is a statement about taking responsibility: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was prepared to issue this note if the invasion of Normany (D-Day) failed. Obviously, it did not and the note was never published.


Anonymous said...

I agree that ownership and taking responsibility is crucial in achieving a world class organization. However, the ownership and actions of individuals will always have a difference of opinion. The integrity of each individual as we all know must be motivated by managements support. Mistakes are inevitable, but finding the solution or root cause is most beneficial than pointing fingers. Everyone is a customer or supplier to another at somepoint of any process. We must all take responsiblity for that fact alone and come to an understanding that we all affect another in some way. Complaining without resolution is wasted energy. All must become a proactive entity to the ownership concept. Without it, the organization returns to the viscious cycle of the "blame game".

Stephen said...

The Ownership Concept-I like that. Sounds like the title for a great book.

How do you create ownership? Better yet, how do you sustain it?

Anonymous said...

I like to think of the "ownership" concept as to once you "Own up to something", you take on the responsibilities of it from start to finish. I like to compare it to owning a family pet ie dog. You say you own, but now feed, take care of it, nurture it, and take on all of the responsibilities that come with "ownership". It is as simple as that. It is the total responsibility and having the integrity to admit any mistakes and "own up to them" and doing something about. I always like to use analogies to this concept because not all will see outside the box especially in the workplace. I feel to sustain this idea is to always compare it to what you would do if it were compared to something true and dear to you, just like the analogy of owning a dog, car, or home. It is the responsibility of each one of us to take ownership of our actions, thoughts, and feelings. So any other creative thoughts to this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Stephen said...

I am a big believer in using other facets of life as analogies for for business. Your pet owning analogy was interesting.

For the plan-do-check-act cycle for continuous improvement, coaching is a great analogy. You plan a practice. Execute the practice. Review the results. Based on the review, you plan new action.

The same for games. You plan, play the game, review the results, and learn from the review.