What Did The Boss Say?

Last year, two goofballs from Norway released a song they thought would be funny, called “What does the fox say?” that turned into a viral hit. The concept for the song is that we know all the sounds the animals make, but not the fox.

Today, I want to talk about things our bosses say. Especially when things are not going well.

How did this happen? Who is responsible? Questions of disappointment.

Sometimes when a project or initiative has gone “pear shaped” – bosses try to distance themselves from the line of fire. They act disappointed – they express disappointment. They want someone who can be held responsible for the bad results. Whether they are looking for a scapegoat, or information about how it can be fixed is hard to tell.

Years of this experience often lead bosses to insist on a single point of responsibility or control. The proverbial “One neck to ring”. When it comes to an application system I have heard that we need a single “owner”. This idea that we always need a single point of responsibility or control is interesting.

So let’s look at what also must accompany that responsibility or control:

1) Decision Rights
2) Funding
3) Clear Goals
4) Engagement

How is it that management assigns responsibility without establishing an environment that will allow the responsible one to succeed? Conversely, how often do we as individuals sign up and allow that assignment without making our conditions of success pre-conditions to the assignment.

But do we always need a single point of responsibility or control? What are the alternatives?

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