Accountability One of the most important imperatives in Robert’s Rules of Innovation is ACCOUNTABILITY. Although the most difficult to create and maintain, every successful company culture needs accountability. Accountability is not an after-the-fact behavior. Holding others accountable begins by communicating very clear expectations and, perhaps, even getting written agreements. A sustainable Innovation program with accountability should be a goal of every Innovation Champion. Apply these ideas and learn more in the book, Robert’s Rules of Innovation.

Accountability Supports Sustainable Innovation

Without risk there can be no innovation, but what happens when success is finally achieved?  In order for innovation to be sustainable it must be driven by a structured management approach that strives for accountability, invention, and re-invention.

Back in December, Innovation Enterprise held a Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York City. One of the best discussions was by Naomi Fried of Boston Children’s Hospital. Ideation is not innovation, she said. It’s true.


It is not enough to rely on each innovation team or group to effectively execute every idea that is put through the pipeline. Accountability is imperative.  Members of a corporate team need to feel responsible for their work – to meet deadlines and to deliver what was agreed upon.

Holding others accountable begins with clear communication of what is expected of them. To promote this point, put it in writing. By putting expectations to pen and paper, you ensure that everyone is on the same page and that your team is given the freedom to work towards their goals with confidence.



In order to promote accountability it is also important to have a dedicated team that can fully vet and execute those ideas. Ultimately the decision must me made as to whether or not the idea moves forward, and your team must be given both ownership and accountability to make that call. Set clear action items, and expect follow through. Engage leadership in the process.

As Ed Hoffman of NASA put it, “if the leadership is not engaged, there is no point”.  Make sure that your leaders are present and accessible. Meet regularly to identify potential obstacles and opportunities before they become larger issues.

Learn more about Accountability and Innovation by watching this short video:

You can learn more about the above points, by reading Robert’s Rules of Innovation. Robert Brands is the founder of and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, with Martin Kleinman, published by Wiley.


Let’s Bring Back Accountability

From customers’ and suppliers’ viewpoint, Company X is fast growing, exciting, and high-energy. Inside, though, it’s a tornado. Fighting fires, arguing over who committed to what, why it didn’t happen, and noticing things that fell through the cracks in just enough time is normal.

How can this happen when they have weekly departmental meetings, keep track of action items, and post projects and timelines everywhere? Easily! There is no accountability. They don’t hold each other accountable for commitments. They’ve seen what happens when you fail, and it isn’t pretty, which undermines individual commitment. Requesters frequently change their minds, reprioritize, or create new, more urgent projects without ever really closing the loop on the old ones.

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Is Your Team Held Accountable?

Before the start of any project, do you ask yourself, “Are my team members held accountable? Do they feel a personal responsibility to deliver the goods?” If you haven’t made the steps to communicate that message yet, it is essential to lay down that foundation in the beginning. For that reason, Accountability is the most important of the ten imperatives in Robert’s Rules of Innovation. In his book, Robert Brands describes the ten factors that must be achieved in order to create and sustain Innovation in business – and it all starts with Accountability.

Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. After all, as the leader of a New Product Development team in any organization, how do you expect your team members to deliver satisfactory results within the desired timeframe? Make it clear from the beginning exactly what is expected of each team member and that they are held accountable for their work. Let your team know that, as members of the organization and members of the NPD team, it is their responsibility to contribute, to pull their own weight and to hold firm to deadlines. Otherwise, deadlines can slip with no real improvements made, and the end result may lead to finger pointing for who’s responsible. Don’t let that happen to your NPD process. Continue reading “Is Your Team Held Accountable?” »

Accountability: The Foundation of Sustainable Innovation

In Robert’s Rules of Innovation: a 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, author and Innovation Speaker Robert Brands shares his 10 imperatives to nourish Innovation – the lifeblood of any company. Of Robert’s 10 imperatives, one of the most important and the most difficult to achieve is Accountability.
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Accountability: The Rudder of Innovation in a Changing Business Environment

As companies and organizations pursue innovation to transform themselves from what they currently are or offer, to what they want to become or provide the marketplace, accountability is the rudder that steers pursuits and prevents a wandering, directionless ship.

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