I participated in a conference last week in which a very senior executive shared how he got tired of every decision that needed to be made was going to him, so he developed four questions for each person in his division to ask when challenged by a decision and if they answered each of the four with a yes, then he said to them, “Just do it.” These four questions were put one side of a card, for all to carry on their person, on the other side of the card was the phrase, “Just do it.”
Here are the four questions:
1. Is it legal/ethical?
2. Is it good for the customer?
3. Is it consistent with our shared values?
4. Are willing to be held accountable for your decision?
As I thought about these four questions, and wondered which one is the most difficult to really answer? Seemingly aren’t 1 and 2, even in companies/organizations that violate their ethics or compliance, answered yes? All you need is intellectual assent and this could be culturally automatic.
Question 3 presumes that all are on the same page with the organization’s values. Wouldn’t this depend on consistent reinforcement and training? If this is training in values, wouldn’t that training be on ethics rather than compliance?
Question 4 is a real thought provoker and a deal breaker for some people. If one accepts accountability for one’s decisions, then the buck stops with you. Therefore, it would seem that there needs to be a deeper understanding of questions 1-3, in order to answer yes.
In case you may be wondering, that after spending two days with these people, I truly believe that this approach is working quite well and personal accountability is embraced as the “name of the game” across whole division.