Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Playing In The Sandbox

Statistical Process Control (SPC) of activates in the sandbox could be to examine responses with "yes" or "no" data, with only two possible outcomes; either rules are followed, and assessed as responsible, or rules are not followed and assessed as irresponsible.
On the other hand, SPC could also be applied to count data and the numbers of defects, or data within the sandbox which are defects because of human behaviors. This does not mean in itself that the behavior is defective, or that it is a defective group, but just that this behavior did not conform to the group playing in the sandbox. It could be as simple as someone accepting accountability and taking on a leadership and management role within the sandbox, which was not prescribed as an expected responsibility.

A floatplane is conforming to the rules of the sandbox, while an amphibian moved outside the box.
When playing in the sand box, behaviors are monitored and defined by an electronic devise. The task often becomes to assess for prescribed activities and then label human activity as human behavior. Everyone who plays nice and stays inside the sandbox becomes labeled as having an acceptable human behavior in the eyes of the sandbox-authority. Assessments grade everyone within this sandbox at levels above or below the bar required for other activities. Human behavior is ignored and accountability is discredited when it is assumed that the only method to achieve desired results is by the ability to follow prescriptive behaviors, or to play nice in the sandbox.

Accountability and the accountability principle is to make decisions based on facts and requirements and not by "who is watching" or what is the right thing to say or do to be accepted in the sandbox. Accountability is to comply with rules and regulations, understanding that these are the bases, or lowest level of the bar to conform to regulatory requirements. 
The conformance principle and conforming to the prescriptive standards in a sandbox group is not to apply the principle of accountability, but the principle of conformance. An old saying about the conformance principle is that: "When the cat is away, the mice will play". 

Outside the sandbox beauty of results and effectiveness is discovered.
The key to success in any organization assessing for effectiveness is to move the accountability principle outside the sandbox with assigned non-prescriptive responsibilities. These non-prescriptive responsibilities could be as simple as to ensure a safe flight to destination and that everyone has a pleasant flight. 
Assessing for accountability is essential when assigning responsibilities.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Responsibility Is Not Accountability

Accountability is not the same as responsibility. Accountability is an overarching customer expectation of an organization to deliver high quality service. Accountability is individualized, while responsibility is generalized. Accountability requires answers to facts, while responsibility does not necessarily require answers and can be delegated downward in the organizational structure. Accountability is pre-determined, while responsibility can be assigned after the fact. Responsibility becomes the blaming-game and does not function well to ensure delivery of high quality safety or best possible quality in customer service.

Responsibility is delegated down in an organization.
One day a traveler arrived at the hotel where he had booked a room online and included in the comment field that he had a pet. When he arrived at the hotel the customer service representative informed him that pets were not allowed at the place. Fair enough he thought and requested a refund of the deposit he had made at the time of online booking. A refund of pre-pay was not the responsibility of the hotel, and the manager threatened to call the police and have the guest removed if he did not leave without having received the refund. In the travelers mind the hotel should live up to accountability and refund the cash, since they are receiving it from the online booking site. On the other hand, the hotel management applied the responsibility principle that it was not their responsibility since the traveler had not booked directly with them.

Some time ago a student discovered that his law online study course required in-depth knowledge of the legal system, the law itself and understanding of the principals applied to practical situations. The student had researched this online study-program, which described the steps in learning the law and then applying the law. When the program was delivered the student discovered at first glance that this course was not the one he had requested, but a different law course which required in-depth knowledge of law principles. When the student addressed this to the principle and requested withdrawal from the course, the principle requested a meeting with the parents of how to proceed. During this meeting the principle made a statement with pride that it was not his responsibility to be a guidance councilor for this extra curriculum courses, but that the student and parents had responsibility to request appropriate courses. The responsibility principle was applied by placing the blame on the student and transferring the blame down the organizational chart after the fact.

Responsibility is to take on the task. Accountability is to get there as planned.
An aviation organization operating solely under the responsibility principle is setting up for failure in providing high quality customer service. However, when an airline, airport, pilot or other flight crew are applying the Safety Management Principle of Accountability they are setting the bar at a level determined to deliver service above and beyond customer's expectations.