Sunday, July 05, 2009

When You Answer to No One: The Michael Jackson Effect

When Michael asked for something, he got it. This was the great tragedy.

----Uri Geller

Michael Jackson’s great talent is undeniable. So is his tortured persona. Tragically, Jackson’s story is an extreme example of disaster catalyzed by the absence of accountability with some healthy built-in checks and balances.

Organizational life can be frustrating and not always fulfilling. But one characteristic both great and not-so-great organizations have in common is a modicum of accountability. That is, individuals are forced to report to someone and be held accountable for their behaviours and the results they produce. Shared values guide every day actions in the absence of thick and detailed procedure manuals. Formal and spontaneous feedback among peers and between “bosses” and their direct reports constantly adjusts decisions and behaviours toward “what works”.

The atmosphere of having to negotiate our agendas and views with others keeps us on our toes. We cannot simply run off easily on a self-destructive path (The Enrons, Nortels and other like companies excepted). Through teamwork, we actually arrive more often than not at better decisions than if left to our own devices.

There’s an evolutionary reason for this: our survival.

Sadly, there was no effective system of support for Michael Jackson. In this case, money did corrupt. A cautionary tale for all of us.

No comments: