What happened to common sense in organizations? So many decent people simply have lost touch with the basic principle of accountability. The excuse of someone else will do something, or will say something is the prevailing culture in many organizations today and at every level. Organized labor has built a model on sticking to the strict confines of assigned duties and responsibilities, disincenting people to just fix things or try to fix things they see broken, if it is not in the job description. How crazy have we become? This is not how we solve challenges that daunt our personal existence and larger community around us. It may not be such a stretch to say that almost all the human caused disasters of the last centuries can trace the root cause of failed outcomes to the lack of accountability at some basic level. Analysts or decision makers ignore signs and warnings of imminent attacks on Pearl Harbor or the World Trade Center, and the world pays a heavy price. Germans internally fail to see Hitler's folly and allow him to rise or act with enough conviction internally to stop him in his tracks. Japanese military leaders unquestioningly follow the most brutal and sadistic tactics failing to question their leaders orders, let alone pressure to stop their country's aggressive emperialism. Tribes of native or more primitive cultures fail to see emperialist outsiders dividing them internally in the name of trade only to enslave them and force assimilation upon them. Sometimes well intentioned leaders just get it wrong, but when there is nothing or no one to hold them accountable, it makes it a lot easier for them to be wrong than right.
Lobbyists and their clients that generate language into bills that become laws making it possible to favor one group over a majority of ignorant, apathetic constituents thrive because there is no accountability. The dismantling of economic safeguards in banking laws that were in place for almost 80 years to protect the American people from excessive risk in banking were directly related to crony capitalism, yet no one is accountable for the mistakes made, so what's to stop it from happening again and again? Corporate executives take unprecedented risks, follow foolish paths based on selfish interests and fail to listen to anyone who disagrees with their decisions, and are largely unaccountable by anyone let alone a governing body representing shareholders, consumers, employees or communities where those businesses operate. Adverse impacts happen to an employee's livelihood when they disagree with bosses in organizations, so the safe and prevailing wisdom of self preservation is just pretend to not see the problem, right? What have we become? Are employees and the communities where they live really surprised that their pay is frozen or there are massive layoffs or closures of once thriving enterprises and communities when no one just solves problems when they first appear?
Is it really any wonder that children in the US can't focus for more than a few minutes, read or do math at grade level on par with other industrialized nations? Is it really any wonder that as a nation we have a national health crisis around costs that rise inexplicably and disproportionately to the rest of the costs in society and Americans overpay for basic health care services that workers like doctors and nurses would probably do for half the pay if asked (how does the military do it?). Doctors, insurance companies and trial lawyers won't budge on controls or costs because the root cause of relative unaccountability to each of their groups benefit from higher costs. Why aren't we as Americans outraged that maladies such as obesity, diabetes, & heart disease that could all be prevented grows to epidemic levels in kids and adults? If it isn't a lack of accountability at personal, community, corporate, and governmental levels that has put us where we are, what else is it? Who else but you and me are responsible for the state of our personal health and economy in the US? How many people do you know that are eligible to vote didn't bother to cast a vote in their primary election? How many people do you know have such a short attention span that they cannot read a 200+ pg book in a few hours, but can watch television for hours without end? How many American people do you know have not read at least one 200+pg book in the last year, and proudly admit they hate to read? How many American people do you know work in positions, report to bosses or work in organizations that they really do not like, but work there any way just for the paycheck to support a lifestyle or an over-extended household motivated by consumption and competition with their neighbor's consumption?
Education and knowledge is free in this world. Public libraries have every book published available to them for nominal costs and available to anyone for free. MIT has free open course ware classes funded by volunteers and donors where anyone can sit in on the lectures available to the world for free. Anyone can log in, audit whatever classes they want and actually learn something new about themselves and the world in a world-class higher education system. The Khan Academy has volunteers and some of the best educational paid staff teaching subjects that anyone can learn or relearn at their own pace in the K-12 curriculum, yet labor organizations representing teachers see the innovation of Khan Academy as a threat and discourage their use. Return to the basics of accountability as originally portrayed in the book the Oz Principle, but apply it to every aspect of your life. Excuses are like TV reality shows they all suck.