Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Accountability and Responsibility on Projects

Project Sponsors, Project Managers and Project Team Members share responsibility for project success.  However, they don't share Accountability and this raises many questions.  First, understand that although 
Accountability and Responsibility are often used interchangeably, they are not interchangeable.

Responsibility can be shared.  As I mentioned, many players on a project are responsible for project success.  This includes the sponsor, the project manager and the project team.   

Final Accountability rests with the sponsor.  Success or failure of projects is critical and only the sponsor can hold this level of accountability.  In fact, the dictionary definition of sponsor is "One who assumes responsibility for some other person or thing".  Because of their final accountability, the sponsor will make sure project managers and teams are properly trained, and that they receive all the necessary coaching, mentoring, and support as they begin their project.  On-going monitoring is critical to ensure the sponsor is aware of any problems, issues or concerns in the management of the project so that they can take action to improve performance.   

The project manager is accountable for project success.  They must ensure that they understand the project requirements and that they execute the project within the parameters set out by the sponsor.  They cannot pass on blame or excuses for poor project performance. 

The project team members hold responsibility to ensure their project tasks are successfully completed within the constraints of time and budget allocated to them.  They must be provided with the training, coaching and mentoring to ensure they can adequately complete these assigned tasks.  Since the project manager is accountable for project success, they will ensure this training, coaching and mentoring is provided.  As well, the project manager will continuously monitor project team member’s progress towards their task completion.

Accountability  can't be shared. We often hear the term "shared responsibility", but there is no such thing as "shared accountability".  It is the "ultimate responsibility".   Former President Harry S. Truman said "The Buck Stops Here". That is probably the clearest and most well-known statements of accountability ever made, and it leaves no doubt in one's mind as to where the ultimate responsibility lies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Innovation Trend 7 - Organizations will recognize the impact of generational differences in the creation of innovations

Part of creating a culture which supports innovation is to understand the generational differences so apparent in our organizations today. At no time in our history have we seen so many different generations working alongside each other. It affects our culture, our work environment, our work relationships and consequently, the innovation process. Why? Because each generation has different approaches to working individually vs. collaboratively, how they generate ideas and so on. Not to suggest that there is only one way or preferred way; rather, to be aware of how to use an understanding of these generational differences to build the innovation culture.

The development of a culture of innovation in our organizations now considers not only the existing organizational culture but the generational differences as well. Recognizing these factors will ensure organizations create the right environment that fits into the uniqueness of their organization.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Innovation Trend 6 - Organizations will create clear processes for innovation

Innovation doesn’t just happen. It must be everyone’s responsibility. There has to be no constraints. There are so many models of great organizations that reached this level and continue to evolve. Think of W.L. Gore, Google, Honda, and Apple to name a few.
Many of the world’s most successful innovators, from Thomas Edison to choreographer Twyla Tharp, concede that innovation cannot be forced, but it can be developed. That is, we can enhance our capacity to generate ideas, innovations, and adopt what Tharp calls the “creative habit.” Developing the understanding and practice of these creative habits is the foundation for a contemporary process that fosters innovation in the workplace.

Organizations are beginning to recognize the innovation is a collaborative process where people from various disciplines within the organizations come together to generate innovations and to take these from vision to reality. The innovation process will be taught and incorporated into everything that everyone does. Many organizations will begin to set aside time for their staff to innovation. Google and Microsoft do this. It is part of their culture. It is expected that everyone spends time not only on their job, but that they devote time to innovate.

The process that organizations will be implementing ensure that everyone knows how to work in a diverse team, accept conflicts as mere differences of opinion, understand how to capture innovations, generate alternatives, research possibilities and create the actions needed to bring them these to reality. It doesn’t just happen. It is a process.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Innovation Trend 5 - Organizations will re-shape their values and principles to ensure they support a culture of innovation

Many organizations have clearly articulated values and principles. They sit on posters and on employee’s desks. But these organizations don’t really know whether or not these are the “right” values and principles. Nor are they certain whether or not their leaders and staff act and behave in a manner which embodies these values and principles.

As organizations re-shape their cultures to support innovation they will also re-examine their values and principles to ensure these are the “right” values and principles that correctly reflect the ‘new” culture. They will take these off the walls. They add to each value and principles clear behavioural descriptions. These will identify the actions and disciplines everyone will demonstrate to show their on-going understanding and embodiment of these values and principles. Then everyone will know whether or not their communications, reactions, actions, etc. are in keeping with or contrary to the values and principles.

Organizations in the future will alter their hiring practices to ensure that they hire the type of staff who can live these values and principles because they align with their own principles. Through these efforts they will know their values and principles are contributing to the fostering of a culture of innovation.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Innovation Trend 4 - Organizations will focus on longer-term strategies required to support a culture of innovation

Organizations often struggle with the on-going trade-off debate between growth and earnings, short and long-term goals, etc. They spend too much time discussing how to cut costs in order to meet monthly revenue targets and too little time talking about the longer-term opportunities and how the short-term decisions are likely to impact these.

Organizations that are focused on the strategy of innovation are starting to realize that their growth will be better met if they focus on the longer term objectives of innovation and customer focus.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Innovation Trend 3 - Organizations will create the culture for consistent innovations to reduce the ad hoc approach to innovations

Organizations will engage everyone at all levels in the process of identifying their definition of a culture of innovation, what makes it an innovation culture, what is needed to create it and what risks must be understood and managed in order to create the engine to drive innovations. One of the initiatives organizations are beginning to undertake is to create teams to delve deeply into these questions. They are recognizing that this is not merely a management imperative, rather, it is a cultural change that requires the on-going input at all levels within their organization.

Organizations that begin re-shaping their cultures around innovation will become focused on both theirs and their customer’s needs and opportunities. They will achieve and maintain profitable operations. These organizations will be constantly looking for ways to reinvent themselves and constantly introducing new varieties and generations of products and services. They will constantly be working on the environment which encourages the development of innovations.

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