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What it means to be personally accountable.

Being accountable means accepting personal responsibility—not just accountability, but personal accountability.

Many of us are quick to blame someone else without acknowledging our role in a particular situation or problem. It is never enough to think that something should be done. Instead you need to ask yourself, “What can I do personally to improve the situation or resolve the problem?”

Sharing a meme on Facebook is nice and even fun, but it’s not the same as being personally accountable. Think about the impact you can have on someone else. Something as simple as picking up a piece of trash or using your own bags when grocery shopping shows that you are part of the solution. It does not have to be a big or dramatically impactful.

Unfortunately in corporations and other organisations, this kind of personal responsibility is often lacking. You have seen the “It is not my job” mindset.

Here is a story that is simple—almost silly simple—but it underscores what I’m trying to get across.

When touring a plant, I saw a burned-out light bulb and mentioned it to the plant manager standing next to me. I thought it was interesting that I noticed the light bulb but he did not. He mentioned it to the maintenance crew who let the bulb remained burned out for an entire month, and you know what their reason was?

They only changed light bulbs once a month. Heck, I could have replaced it! It would have taken just a few minutes. In the biggest scheme of things, does it really matter that a light bulb was burned out for a month? Of course not, but it is indicative of systemic issues. Obviously at this organisation there is a lack of accountability.

When was the last time you were personally accountable?

Subir Chowdhury

Subir Chowdhury

One of the world’s pre-eminent experts on quality and process improvements, Subir Chowdhury is the #1 international bestselling author on SIX SIGMA philosophy. Hailed by The New York Times as a “leading Quality expert,” and by Business Week as “the Quality Prophet”, he is the author of 15 books. His latest book THE DIFFERENCE: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Crown Business, 2017) made it to the USA Today Bestseller list as well as National Bestseller in India. In 2017, India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur established the ‘Subir Chowdhury School of Quality and Reliability’ – the first of its kind in Asia. He is the Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and helped his clients save billions of dollars.

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