A recent post by Jason Fried (Founder, CEO of Basecamp) led me to share some of my thoughts on Accountability or where does the buck stops. I surely recommend that you read that post first, but to paraphrase what he said —

So in 2017, all refunds requested by Basecamp customers will come out of my paycheck.

Yes you read it right, Jason has drawn a clear and unambiguous line as to where the buck stops!

Of-course how and when it will work and other formalities are not known to me but even to make that statement on a public forum read by millions says a lot about Jason and the philosophy and culture he abides by the Product and Company he founded at Basecamp. He said in 12 words but the impact is exponential much more. Though he has mentioned that its more of an experiment for this year, I am eager to find out how it pans out and what were the outcomes of his decision.

Frankly, I really can’t think of anyone who has demonstrated this level of Accountability specially in the tech world. Yes there are accountability by law, for example in an Oil-drilling company if something goes wrong people are made (scapegoats included) accountable but those are more obligatory (and legally binding) than what Jason has made here which is 100% voluntary and no legal binding whatsoever.

This is the kind of accountability which if it flows at all ranks, the results can be monumental. And here are 5 reasons in my opinion—

  1. When you take or become accountable, you cease all power to blame anyone but also more importantly, you seize power to do the required changes. Someone else’s problem becomes your problem and its very empowering and liberating. In-fact there are posters in Facebook which says something on similar lines — “Nothing is some one else’s problem.”
  2. Whether you are an entrepreneur or having a job, things will go wrong. More than often trying to find solutions, we get into finding some one to blame. When there is clear accountability, a lot of blame game can be done away with. Yes it may happen that the person who actually did the wrong thing goes away without any blame and the person accountable gets all the blame..but then I have always believed in Karma. Also in essence being accountable or taking blame is not really to shield someone, not always, but its more to embrace that yes things have gone wrong and I will change it. Its a subtle mindset shift but it can make things much easier to deal with.
  3. When I make myself publicly accountable, every action, every decision is much more deliberate and thought through as I know that I have no one else to blame.
  4. Its a sign of leadership. I follow Jason, his colleagues and his company posts on Medium and these are a bunch of leaders who have time and again shown and wrote about leadership at many levels. If, and I hope someday it happens, I was working with Jason, his way of leadership is something I would be deeply influenced by and affect how I tackle stuff on a day-to-day basis. By taking full accountability, Jason has indirectly reaffirmed his belief in his team. Bravo!
  5. It empowers people. Many a times I am fearful of making decisions or experimenting as I feel if things go wrong the ax will fall on me. But when I know that there is some one else accountable on my behalf, I feel empowered to do it and I will do it with much more thought and clarity. As some wise person one said, “its only in a calm ocean where the depth can be seen”. So when my mind is struggling or confused or in chaos, its unlikely I am at the peak of my performance and likelihood of making a wrong decision or a mistake increases.

To conclude, I thank you Jason for doing this. You have me inspired and without a doubt I will be more keen and open to demonstrate accountability as you have.