Accountability. What Does That Mean, Exactly?


We keep hearing the word accountability. In the field I’m in (Healthcare), it’s the latest buzzword. It joins integration and interoperability as vague words that people have difficulty figuring out what it means.

Here’s a story on accountability, or lack thereof.

Bob was out of town on a trip, and he brought his young son Taylor along.

During the trip Taylor, who gets into everything, got a hold of Bob’s keys, and snapped off the metal key part of the car key.

Bob was visibly upset, and was blaming Taylor for doing this. The keys were on the lower table, well within reach of Taylor.

Next, Bob tries to repair the key, by gluing the key back together. Unfortunately while performing this exercise, Bob uses too much glue, and the glue gets inside the fob part of the key, and that caused the door lock buttons to cease working. Bob blamed the glue and the glue manufacturer for coming out too fast.

Bob then calls around to the local auto supply store, asking for a replacement fob and key. The clerk tells Bob that with that car, it’s a special order for the store, and the key would be in stock in about a week. Bob yells at the clerk, saying it’s not fair that they don’t keep a stock of customized keys.

Bob finally calls a dealership that has the key in stock, but it will require 4 hours of service time, to reprogram the car’s computer to recognize the new fob. Bob was upset that it would take that long, as he has a very busy schedule.

Bob really loses it when the dealership said it would be tomorrow before he could come in. “I have plans tomorrow, why can’t you do it right now?” The clerk indicated that other people had appointments. “You people are all the same, you never cater to the customer!”

What’s the takeaways for the examples above? Who should be held accountable (responsible) for their actions?

In the story above, Bob basically blamed everyone but the Pope for the broken key.

Here’s the reality kids, there’s one individual that should be held accountable (responsible) for what happened:


First, If the keys would have been put on the higher counter, where everyone else there puts their keys, Taylor wouldn’t have had access to the keys.

Second, blaming the glue manufacturer for how the glue came out of the container is not accepting responsibility for not properly using the glue. Going back to the location of keys, if Bob would have properly stored his keys, the glue wouldn’t be an issue.

Third, blaming the auto supply store for not carrying a custom fob in stock is foolish. Anyone that has dealt with any type of inventory or retail knows that you can’t keep everything. This may be a stretch, but maybe Bob should buy a car that is more common than the custom one he had to have.

Fourth, blaming the dealership for not giving Bob instant access to an appointment is rude to the dealership, and rude to the other customers that had appointments. How would you like your appointment be cancelled, because of a P.I.T.A. customer?

P.I.T.A. is Pain In The Ass.

So accountability is being responsible for your actions, not blaming others for your actions and choices, and owning up to your mistakes.

Don’t be a Bob.

(Sincere apologies for anyone named Bob. I know a lot of people named Bob, and they are salt of the earth people, so this story does not reflect them.)

Be well!