Accountability vs Responsibility

There’s a difference.

I’m in London attending a conference in Greenwich, and the hotel I was booked into (a very pleasant one in the centre)had a flood, and moved me to the only feasible alternative, a budget chain hotel a few minutes away. A nuisance, but no problem; stuff happens.

The interesting lesson was the “agency problem”. having dealt with the mechanics, the problem was delegated to me – organising taxis, sorting bills, all the minutiae. The opportunity to turn a challenge into a positive experience went missing, as job descriptions, and the boundaries of accountability to line managers, kicked in.

At the conference (In the University of Greenwich – great location) the person looking after the conference could not have been more different. constantly there, not obtrusive, sensing what was going on, and providing things as the need appeared, but before requests were made. My guess is he’s on the same sort of contract as those in the hotel, but he took responsibility.

Accountability is to others. Responsibility is to ourselves.

It’s a big difference.

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