Accountability and Dependencies

Accountability and Dependencies.

There is much ballyhoo over accountability.  Accountability is very important as without responsibility and accountability a project or an organization will never survive let alone thrive.  There are times when we push for accountability; however, and few of the prerequisites for the accountability are not met.  I am writing specifically accountability as it applies to depending tasks.

Here is one way we get Accountability Failures

Here is how accountability failure due to misunderstood dependencies works.  The first task is late, or delivery is of poor unworkable quality.  The next person in the chain of events then receives pressure to deliver on their commitments. We tell them they are responsible for their delivery.  True –they are responsible for their delivery; however the precondition, timely and accurate inputs, were missed.

The chain of events often starts when we spend insufficient time understanding the task connections or were missing team members (cross functional).  We over look key dependencies and associations between tasks or have unclear attributes of a task outcome (WBS and WBS dictionary).


Example of the Decomposition via WBS

Example of the Decomposition via WBS


Our team is unable to differentiate a good or adequate up stream depending task.  The receiving party gets the input that is largely or even entirely unusable or late.  Braking down the scope into these smaller tasks puts us in a position to ask relevant questions, and more importantly receive more accurate answers, on the state of completion or rate of progress. That is one of the benefits of the agile approach.  We will write more on rate of accomplishment in a future blog.

Dependencies Failures and Implications

The second thing that happens, we forget the logic of time and the connection of those dependencies as the pressure to make the schedule come to bear.  Project managers then admonish the depending task responsible to deliver on commitments when the requisite inputs were late, or entirely un-useable.  This has more in common with witch hunt than accountability.

Accountability is not the next person or the final person in the delivery chain.  Delivery requires all parties bear and deliver their portion of the project timely and accurately.  Understand how the parts fit together.  Define progress metrics and monitor closely. Do not wait until the prior “delivery” to find out the delivery is late.  Do not allow prior poor deliveries to infect subsequent links in the delivery chain. Do not admonish the next person in the chain to deliver on their commitments.

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