Schlagwort-Archive: Responsibility

Unnecessary loss of friction in the process

Business procedures, such as the development of new services, the procurement of material, the production of goods or the distribution of commodities, are improved through the active Business Process Management (BPM). For this purpose, the procedures are described and weaknesses are visualized in order to optimize the sequence of activities so that only the right thing is done right, e.g.

  • better involved customers,
  • more reliable delivery,
  • accelerated turnaround time,
  • automated tasks
  • minimized time and costs,
  • increased quality,
  • and so on.

The desired effects can not be accomplished, if existing approaches and demands get in the way of real progress. This leads to losses of friction that do not disappear with the designing of processes.

Often these hurdles are homemade. A good example of impeding attitudes is the way of dealing with tasks, authority and responsibility.

  • Tasks without authority and responsibility
    The actual work is performed as a task. Usually something is created, processed, finished or executed – e.g. building a prototype, polishing a surface, assembling a device, washing a car. In order to be able to perform the task, the performers need appropriate knowledge and skills.
    However, if they lack the appropriate authority and responsibility for the results, then the fulfillment will be poor.
  • Authority without tasks and responsibility
    The authority describes the rights that somebody has. This includes the permissions to perform or direct something – e.g. to use a certain machine for manufacturing or to give instructions to the employees. The corresponding permissions must be known by all involved people.
    If someone has sufficient authorities, but no task or responsibility, the competence loses its effect.
  • Responsibility without task and authority
    Responsibility describes the commitments that you make. This can be direct responsibility or shared responsibility – direct responsibility refers to one’s own actions and the activities of directly assigned employees; the shared responsibility arises, if one has indirect influence on occurrences as part of a team (in the sense of cling together, swing together).
    Individuals like to adorn themselves with the glow of responsibility – especially, if it does not result in any consequences, because there are no tasks associated or special permissions required.

In simple words: Tasks, authority and responsibility should ALWAYS be in one hand for the sake of adequate results. It makes no sense to assign someone to a task without the necessary authorities for the fulfillment and without the responsibility for the result. Good examples are the Japanese line workers, who perform subtasks in making a car.  They have the right and duty to immediately stop the line, if they find a mistake. This allows the earliest possible correction of the flaw. That way they avoid the accumulation of unnecessary rework. At the same time, costly decision-making processes are avoided, which would burden the process.

Bottom line: The design of processes often begins with the application of IT, in the hope that this can improve the process. However, often old rules and roles are retained. As a result, for example, task, authority and responsibility remain in different hands. Even, if it is faster and you only have to click once to fulfill your responsibilities or to allow the performers to do their job. The largest effect is achieved by transferring the task, authority and responsibility to the people, who fulfill the task. They know what to do, can decide how to do it, and strive for the required quality of the result. That way, the losses of friction in a process are minimized.

Level playing field is for no one free

When we meet other people, by nature we differ in physical, cultural and mental characteristics – height, weight, age, origin, language, culture, class, attitudes, abilities, activities and so on. Even close relatives develop more and more differences over time. Respectively many people desire an equal and respectful interaction with each other. On closer look it appears that this desired level playing field is for no one free.


Actually it is mainly a matter of making common cause in a spirit of no prejudging, of mutual confidence and with respect. The alternative positions are unpleasant for some people. Although the protagonists decide, in which position they are, apart from having equal level there are the following point of views.

  • Worm’s-eye view
    For those people, who look at cooperation from this perspective, a feeling of inferiority becomes sometimes apparent. If one supposes that the other one caused this situation, one feels degraded. This position offers the comfortable position of not being responsible, but nevertheless most people strive at least for level playing field.
  • Bird’s-eye view
    From this point of view these people develop quickly the feeling of superiority. This aspect does not often come from others, who put someone up on the pedestal, but from one’s arrogance. The illusion of having things firmly under control does not mean that the respective person also feels responsible. The associated reputation often prevents that everybody can meet on common ground.

Agreeing to meet on level playing field results in mutual give and take.

  • Jointly assigning tasks
    Tasks are mainly not a matter of taking over, but rather of getting rid of them. Level playing field means in this case that the selection of an activity is done equally. The obligations are not simply delegated from the top and are not simply rejected from the bottom. This requires an objective approach for the assignment. On the one hand the wishes should be taken into account and on the other hand the insight should exist that certain things have to be done.
  • Authority to the acting person
    The right of doing something is more likely what people struggle for. Everyone wants to have the authority to select and to decide. Level playing field means here to find a reasonable power allocation. One approach is to provide people the authority that they need to fulfill their tasks.
  • Taking responsibility for the own acts
    The responsibility in turn is something that one would like to delegate, since the consequences are in the worst case the loss of the own position. On level playing field means that one achieves the appropriate distribution of the responsibility. The superordinate have the responsibility for the aspects that they set for subordinates. The subordinate takes the responsibility for its own doing, without being able to refer for example to a necessity to obey orders.

A helpful approach is the bundling of tasks, authority and responsibility in one hand. That way taking over a task includes the authority attached to it and the responsibility for the fulfillment. The task has thereby possible negative consequences in case of the failure. This motivates the person in charge to fulfill the task with a successful conclusion and then, of course, pocket the wages.

Bottom line: In principle the human right is valid, since we are all equal. However, this is not sufficient to reach level playing field in daily life. There are things that must be regulated due to an existing hierarchy. Level playing field is for no one free. Both sides must strive for it. Putting the tasks fittingly in one hand is a smart solution.