Can You Share Responsibility? I Wonder…

I had an epiphany!  Well, maybe it’s better explained as an out-of-body experience.  Well, maybe not quite that.  What it really was, was a personal experience that validated an old “management truism” for me.

figure_holding_up_rock_800_clr_14564I use “responsibility charting” a lot with my clients. This is a business process whereby responsibilities are assigned; subordinate tasks are identified, and each subordinate task is assigned to one person as “responsible.”  There are dozens of versions of this process with different names, but the basic premise remains the same:  there can only be one “R.”  I like the tool because it accelerates forward movement of a team, because of role clarity.

I have introduced this tool to many, many groups over the years, and I am asked routinely, “Why can’t there be more than one ‘R?’”   My response is always that two people cannot effectively (the operative word) own a task, and if you’re trying to assign a task to multiple people, your tasks aren’t yet sufficiently broken out.  That usually satisfies them.  Once they have struggled a bit, they realize that the task could actually be broken down into subordinate tasks. (more…)