Coalesce Responsibility

One technique to establish an environment of direct responsibility is for an individual to absorb responsibility with a focus on absorbing responsibility that’s involved in establishing customer needs through to delivering customer results.

But it’s not always possible for one individual to do all the work necessary. There often are many skills involved in doing the work to translate customer need into customer result. Additionally, it may not be possible for one individual to do all the work even if there’s only one skill set involved. Especially if an expedited timeline is valuable to the customer.

In addition to absorbing responsibility, individuals can work together to motivate others to absorb responsibility too. These individuals may be doing unrelated work, in other words working on other, distinct customer needs. But, if you look at the customer needs you are responsible for, even if you aren’t directly responsible, you can work to encourage others that are also responsible for those same customer needs to absorb more responsibility in the work they do.

For example, in software development, if work is partitioned into establishing customer needs, designing the software, development, testing, release and support, then individuals in all of these areas can work together to absorb responsibility of neighboring responsibilities. Someone that exclusively focuses on development may take on some testing responsibility. Someone that exclusively focuses on testing may take on some development or release responsibility. Someone that works on design may take on some development responsibility. Someone who works on establishing needs may take on some design or maybe even release and support responsibility. Someone who works on support may take on release and testing responsibility.

In time, distinct responsibilities can coalesce into direct responsibility. Skill sets will be characteristics of individuals, not responsibilities. That doesn’t mean someone who has strong expertise in development will be replacing someone with strong expertise in analyzing business needs. But it does mean someone that’s developing something will be much more aware of what the customer needs, and how what they develop will impact testing, release and support. Because they’ll be helping with testing, release and support, and they’ll care about making testing, release and support a priority, not just development.

Think of all the things people in these distinct responsibilities would benefit from sharing direct responsibility.

In time, by coalescing responsibility, individuals will learn other skill sets and perhaps find strengths they can exploit that they never would have otherwise discovered. Individuals will have an understanding and responsibility to deliver results that meet customer needs. And the perils of slicing and dicing responsibility can be avoided.

Coalescing responsibility can be accomplished by absorbing responsibility, but it also can be accomplished with support from the top. With support from the top, individuals with distinct responsibilities can be coalesced into a team. Many teams can be formed. Each team can be held accountable to delivering results based on a distinct set of customer needs. Instead of hierarchies of efficiency, an army of efficacious teams can be built.