rocks-in-balance.full_After a number of years of talking about joining the Leadership Gift program I finally did it! I’m very excited about being on this journey. The Leadership Gift is a program led by Christopher Avery as a result of decades of research resulting in the Responsibility Process. The process says it’s human nature for us to land in one of four places if something goes wrong: obligation, shame, justify or lay blame. The gift is being able to recognize this for yourself and to take responsibility for what happens next.

Just to be clear – if your version of responsibility involves finding who’s neck to put the noose around we’re not on the same page. Real responsibility is not something you can impose on someone. It is something you need to learn to recognize and manage for yourself.

Recently I’ve been on a kick of talking about process, control and compliance. I recently blogged about it: My kids messy bedrooms and compliance. This morning I was reflecting on the relationship between compliance vs the level of responsibility inherent in the culture.

I’ve worked with organizations with little process or compliance. In my observation this is common in young companies working to establish a presence. Typically they want to do what it takes to make the customer happy even at the expense of process. (I’m not saying this is ideal – it’s just my observation) To survive though there needs to be a strong culture of responsibility as you’re counting on the people to always do great things!  Long term I don’t see this state as sustainable. The lack of controls & process will likely result in a code base which may not be sustainable.  What happens next is important.

I’ve seen companies replace responsibility with process. When this happens the resulting environment can be characterized with blame, low trust and questionable results. Management will blame the people for not following the process. The people hide behind and blame the process. The process is slow to evolve. The whole time everyone thinks they’re being responsible. It would be difficult to have good results long term if you remain here too long.

The ideal state is when you have both process and responsibility. The stronger processes mean you are more likely to create and sustain a better product.  The heightened state of responsibility means you are tapping into the combined potential of the people. The people who know the work best will be taking ownership and even helping to evolve how it’s approached. In all this will mean your company will be responsive to the changing world around you. The result is more likely to be a sustainable and offer the greatest growth potential.

So when you look at where you are today, be careful about what you transform/change. Life is about balance.  In this case we need to balance the organization’s need for process with the benefits of having a highly responsible culture.

Oh and if you’re wondering I did skip one combination. The one where you have low levels of process AND  responsibility. This just isn’t a great place to be. The only time I’ve seen this was a company in their final days. Wasn’t a great thing as chaos ensued while they struggled to survive (they didn’t).

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