Make Everyone Accountable

May 14, 2007  

Here’s another tip from my innovation book… 

Because a few individuals at the top cannot possibly plan all of a company’s activities, give employees a set of rights, responsibilities and rewards that make them accountable for their own actions.

Example: Koch Industries (the largest privately held company in the world) wanted to achieve world-class safety. Rather than have a few safety engineers scour the company, Koch gave this responsibility to all employees, with rewards both for uncovering unsafe conditions and for discovering new ways to conduct business more safely. This initiative resulted in as much as a 50-percent improvement each year in the number and severity of accidents across Koch Industries. Within one year the company had moved from middle of the pack to one of the best safety records in its industries.

The same principle works with innovation. In the beginning it makes sense – in fact, it is necessary – to have an innovation core team. However, after a period of time, innovation should be the responsibility of all individuals and not a centrally controlled or coordinated group. At that time, the innovation core team can be dismantled.

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