Elise Olding

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Elise Olding
Research Director
6 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a research director in Gartner's Program and Portfolio Management (PPM) group. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on BPM implementation practices. Read Full Bio

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Is A Lack of Accountability Eroding Effectiveness?

by Elise Olding  |  April 29, 2013  |  1 Comment

Accountability is at the foundation of business success. Many organizations implement technology or new business processes but don’t consider their current cultural norms for accountability. What’s the cost of overlooking this? 

As an example – I use a parking app on my mobile in my hometown. The other day I returned to my car as the parking enforcement officer was creating an expensive parking ticket for me. I showed him my phone clearly displaying I had 15 minutes left. He told me I wasn’t on his list. Upon closer examination we discovered I was in zone 222 and parked in zone 221. (The app states you can park anywhere in the city with a valid session.) I showed him the nearest sign to me was 222 but he still left the ticket and told me to contest it.  

Given we live in cities struggling with tight budgets this seemed crazy. Now my ticket will need to be processed by someone at the parking citation center which will cost the city money they don’t have. The parking officer had new technology, but no new accountability. In the old system, once a ticket was written, it was not an option to reverse it. He now has the information he needs and the knowledge that this ticket would likely be reversed yet not the accountability to be able take action. Had he been able to use his judgement and remove the ticket from his handheld the cost would be zero and everyone would be happy. 

When I talk with clients about why they aren’t getting the expected benefits from their technology implementations, many times one cause is a  lack of defining accountability. If the culture of accountability isn’t there to begin with, implementing new business processes and technology aren’t going to magically change people’s behavior. And, as in the case of the parking ticket, you may actually be incurring increased costs.

Mastering organizational change skills can be daunting, but perhaps starting with identifying the need to establish a culture of accountability can be a good place to start. Ask if employees are equipped with the education and information they need in order to make the decisions that let them be more effective (and likely happier) in their jobs. Assess if responsibility is aligned with accountability and the authority to take action in order to achieve the full effectiveness from process and technology changes.

What are some of your experiences with a lack of accountability?

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