The Accountability Trap

The Accountability Trap

Accountability without authority is a recipe for failure. Here's how to make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Stay On the Line

Allison could have stubbornly insisted that someone needs to be in charge or it won't happen. But fortunately for her, she saw the light. "I've got to go back to my boss and renegotiate this position," she said.

"Absolutely right!" I said. It's the responsibility of the CIO to get accountabilities sorted out properly, and never to put one manager at odds with peers or set someone up to fail.

Whether in the form of compliance, security, business continuity, or process owner, the same fundamental organizational principle applies: Accountability and authority must follow lines of reporting. Everybody must be held accountable for their own behaviours.

Compliance, security, business continuity, and other change agents must limit their accountability to providing a highly effective coordination service. And C-level executives must step up to the plate and demand accountability in all the right places.

You can read another version of this column on consultant N. Dean Meyer's Web site with links to other Beneath the Buzz columns, relevant white papers, books, and other resources. Contact him at

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