Responsibility

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
— George Bernard Shaw

I created the table below to illustrate a few of the ways that people think about responsibility. The first use actually address the difference between responsibility and accountability. Accountability is liability, and demands some sort of response. You can be responsible by being accountable.ResponsibilityThe “it’s not me” notion of responsibility is often used as the excuse for not doing the right thing. It often takes courage to avoid using this excuse, because it can mean risking an asset or a privilege that you currently have.

To think of responsibility as a social contract is supposedly what we are doing in a democracy. Of course, the idea that democracy is primarily about competition rather than cooperation often keeps social responsibility from being a primary consideration.

Entrepreneurs Versus Administrators

“Entrepreneurs may be brutally honest, but fostering relationships with partners and building enduring communities requires empathy, self-sacrifice and a willingness to help others without expecting anything in return.”
– Ben Parr

Administration of any institution is essentially a conservative practice. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is progressive by definition. When you look at Greg Dees’ table below, the idea that jumps out is that administrators are essentially risk averse. Of course, when no risks are taken things don’t change a whole lot. It isn’t that entrepreneurs don’t try to mitigate risk; they simply embrace it as part of the price you pay to innovate.

entrepreneur vs administratorSource: J. Gregory Dees, Co-founder, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Consider the value in entrepreneurship’s bias toward action, combined with flexible perseverance. This the best recipe for creating change. Bureaucratic administration is the best recipe for maintaining the status quo.

There are certainly enterprises that need to be rooted in bureaucratic procedure. If your goal is to create something new, and different, however, you may want to consider entrepreneurial approaches.

How can leaders foster and cultivate entrepreneurship?

  • Encourage creativity. Crowdsource your challenges among your team and allies.
  • Continually experiment with small “proof of concept” pilot projects. Don’t just talk about doing things differently; try something new.
  • Play the devil’s advocate when plans appear to follow the way things have “always been done.” Just make sure that you don’t let questioning everything keep you from action.
  • Don’t be too prescriptive, and encourage ownership of your goals. People will see various paths to achieving outcomes.

It seems that to a great extent, administration is about power, and mitigating risk. Continue the exploration of those topics by clicking the links.