If your organization has difficulty assigning responsibility for results, consider responsibility charting. This technique is essentially a matrix with results desired in one column, and individuals in an organizational unit in the other columns. Matrix entries specify who is responsible for what and, if possible, when results are expected. With this relatively simple approach, responsibility and clarity is much more clear, especially if there is a review of the results achieved when compared with the results desired.
But not all responsibility can be assigned in advance. Sometimes individuals volunteer to be accountable for certain results in special circumstances. Stories are an effective tool for eliciting volunteers to become more accountable, particularly when the story involves a previous member of the organization who overcame overwhelming odds to deliver extraordinary results. Success stories are part of every culture, and success stories about accountability help to make the culture more accountable as well as encourage volunteerism. 1
In your attempt to be clear about responsibility, effective communication is essential. Sometimes leaders know exactly what they want, but they don’t communicate clearly what is desired. Sometimes leaders have a vague idea of what is wanted and dialogue needs to be conducted with subordinates to help clarify matters. When the dialogue is open, candid, and informal, clarity ensues and accountability results. 2