31 October 2011

Ownership & Responsibility

On the collaborative teams I have enjoyed working on, we quickly forget who the assigned leader is and often coalesce around a de facto leader. In Cisco and a Cautionary Tale about Teams Rosabeth Moss Kanter repeats the old bromide:
When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible
I can think of at least one scenario where this assertion doesn't hold water. It has to do with one's ownership stake.

With a top-down model, even highly collaborative team members are loath to assume full responsibility because they don't want to be taken for a mug.

But for many people, taking responsibility is proportional to their ownership stake in the product or venture.

My experience has this contrarian twist:
When everyone is responsible, shit simply gets done