The Sound of No One Crying “When Will Someone Take Responsibility Around Here?”

Responsibility eTip for December 2006

Nick* was a long-time cherished supplier to APLUS, my client organization celebrating 60 years in business (and record growth, profit, and morale) at a luncheon yesterday. “Yes, we offer quality, price, and on-time delivery, but everyone competes on those”  said Nick. “What makes our business relationship  uniquely successful is how each party steps up to and takes responsibility for problems wherever they are.”

“For example” offered Nick. “I got stuck with a container-load of material and APLUS took it off my hands. They didn’t have to, but they were in a position to help me avoid an expensive problem.”

Ah, music to my ears.

Then Jerry offered his experience as a long-time cherished — and now the largest — customer to APLUS. “I was looking for a new supplier to replace these APLUS bozos when Joe took over as General Manager” admitted Jerry. “Joe flew out to meet me and asked me to  give him six months to establish a pattern of manufacturing improvements before I made my decision.”  Jerry continued, “That was five years ago. Today, they are 10X better than Six Sigma and we send APLUS 20 times the business we were doing back then. And it will increase by a factor of 20 again over the next three years. Why? Because we have a deep partnership where together we face the brutal facts, confront the truth, and respond to problems head on.”

Ah, a symphony of Responsibility Redefined now played in my ears!

What’s the moral here? In this value chain of an East-coast supplier, a Central-states manufacturer, and a  Mountain-states customer, the words “when will someone take responsibility around here” have been replaced with “I will.” It’s a nationwide growing refrain of Responsibility Redefined.

Responsibility Redefined Challenge: Remove all permutations of When will someone take responsibility around here? from your vocabulary and notice what happens to your willingness to re-examine and maybe even confront problems around you. Then notice your performance results.

* The story is true. The names are contrived.

Posted in Responsibility on 12/12/2006 12:30 pm
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