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How Did That Happen?

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How Did That Happen?

Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Most workplace problems are accountability problems. Get employees to step up rather than step out.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


When things go wrong at work and you’re left asking, “How did that happen?” the reflexive response is to find someone or something to blame. That doesn’t solve anything. Nor does it prevent something from falling through the cracks again in the future. Take a proactive, constructive approach by developing a sense of accountability in every person at every level of your organization. Consultants Roger Connors and Tom Smith provide a system – the “Accountability Sequence” – for instilling responsibility in everyone in your company. The authors’ insistence – here, as in their previous books – on using their own contrived terminology adds an unnecessary layer of confusion and redundancy to their otherwise solid, straightforward and useful concepts. getAbstract recommends their system for creating an organizationwide sense of accountability, responsibility and participation to managers at any company of any size.


Accountability, Not Blame

The three axioms of the “Accountability Sequence Model” are the foundation of holding people accountable in a “positive, principled way” that makes them feel good and produces results. When things go wrong, people usually have dropped the ball due to a lack of knowledge and experience rather than an unwillingness to fulfill a task. The first axiom, the “Accountability Assumption,” acknowledges that most people do all they can to fulfill expectations, yearn to make valuable contributions, and take satisfaction in meeting or surpassing expectations. The second axiom, the “Accountability Fallacy,” claims that flawed people fail to deliver on expectations. The third axiom, the “Accountability Truth,” says leaders should see themselves as part of the problem in addressing unmet expectations.

The Accountability Sequence has an “Outer Ring” and an “Inner Ring.” In the Outer Ring, you “establish...expectations” by the way you “form, communicate, align and inspect” what you want people up and down your “Expectations Chain” to accomplish. The Inner Ring details the four components of the “Accountability Conversation” you’ll use to help someone deliver...

About the Authors

Roger Connors and Tom Smith co-founded the Partners in Leadership consultancy and co-wrote The Principle and Journey to the Emerald City.

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    M. F. 6 years ago
    The advise is solid in How did that Happen.Once you get past the terminology you realize that most people want to succeed and want their company to succeed .It is the Organization' job to make that possible in a proactive positive way .The authors of this book have a system that explains the way to do it and that appears to work in practice