Showing posts from August, 2008

Essential Management Semantics - Responsible vs Accountable

I've had a discussion at the office about who is responsible for a certain activity. And as expected, the junior colleagues got into a discussion of who is more and who is less responsible for the activity. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines two distinct roles:  Responsible andAccountable
If you open Websters dictionary ( and look up the adjective "responsible" you get the following description: answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management
If you do the same for "accountable" here is what you get: subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.

It is a common sense to assume that "accountable" and "responsible" are synonyms. But both in Management and IT their meaning differs slightly and that makes all the difference:
Accountable is the PERSON (singular) who answers for the entire set of results in a perf…