People Stuff: The Seven Ingredients of a Gorgeous Accountability Chart

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Steve Jobs


Thank you, Steve Jobs.

I love great design. The first career I considered, besides being an astronaut, was architecture. While I know that great designers have been around for centuries, I believe Steve Jobs deserves some credit for bringing great design to the “masses” (that word seems pejorative but I could not find a better word).

The beauty of great design is the marriage of form, function, and simplicity. When achieved, great design is simply elegant. As I say quite often, “Less is better, until it’s not.”

For me, the BIG IDEA behind great design applies to your Accountability Chart (A/C). A great A/C conveys to everyone in the organization how you have designed the what, the why, and the who that go together to make up your business.

A well-designed A/C also helps you avoid hiring people who may be wonderful individuals, but don’t fit any of the seats in your company. I don’t buy into the notion that you should hire great people even if you don’t have a position or a role for them. It’s like adding a fifth leg to a beautiful desk. Why do it? Are you really going to hire great talent without being able to give them something meaningful to do? I hope not.

So what does a gorgeous A/C look like?

A gorgeous A/C possesses the following characteristics:

  1. Clearly delineates which seat is responsible for what, from handling the loss of a valued customer to replacing the tissue paper before it is out;
  2. Clearly delineates the five to seven key roles associated with every type of seat;
  3. Contains the exact amount of seats needed to get the business to where it will most likely be in 6-9 months and shows which seats are open or being temporarily occupied – because we value transparency (the lack of it fuels politics);
  4. Has every seat filled by someone who clears your core values bar and GWC’s the roles associated with the seat;
  5. Has the right amount of layers so that everyone is being lead and managed by someone with just the right level of context (aka time span capacity);
  6. Has a proper load balance so no one is working less than 80% of capacity or more than 120% of capacity; and
  7. Accommodates an appropriate amount of A and B Players.

So what do you think; is your Accountability Chart a thing of beauty?

Until next time, may you build with passion and confidence.

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