Operations Can Only Do So Much – When Will Boards Hold Executives Accountable for Executive Level Work?

By Michelle Malay Carter on September 23, 2009 

Clarifying Accountability
When will we fully appreciate that the operational levels, aka work levels 1-3,?within an organization can only work within the confines set at the executive/strategic levels?

Who Sets the Conditions?
What do the executive levels directly control?? Executive levels:

Operational Accountabilities
The operational levels are accountable to steward and make best use of the resources,?to refine and?optimize processes, to assure operational quality, and to adequately train and monitor front line employees to create products or deliver services.?

Sleeping at the Wheel
Sleeping at the wheel has fairly short feedback loops in the operational world.? Operational workers caught doing this don’t last long.? Executive sleeping at the wheel is a far more insidious issue, and it has far more wide reaching ramifications.

When? a company is in danger, operational cost cutting and waste reduction is like bailing a sinking ship with a teaspoon.

Where is the Governance?? What are Boards of Directors Doing?
It’s time for executives to put their big boy and big girl britches on and stop making operations carry the weight of executive level incompetence in system design and strategic insight.?

I’m OK.? You’re OK.? Let’s fix the system.

Filed Under Requisite Organization


6 Responses to “Operations Can Only Do So Much – When Will Boards Hold Executives Accountable for Executive Level Work?”

  1. Forrest on September 24th, 2009 11:26 am

    Even worse, we are paying them for the work that they are not doing. It’s not just that CEOs are overpaid: they are being overpaid for work that they aren’t bothering to do anyway.

    Mark may be right that the only solution is for big time investors to step in and demand accountability from the Directors.

  2. Michelle Malay Carter on September 25th, 2009 6:34 am

    Hi Forrest,

    Thanks for the comment. There is definitely something wrong with this picture.


  3. Alicia Parr on September 30th, 2009 9:57 am

    Ooh. Snap. Hallelujah speak the truth, sistah.

    In answer to your title question– when executive incentives begin to motivate results at a time delay appropriate to executive LoW. How to encourage that happening? Wish I were smart enough to figure that one out.

  4. Michelle Malay Carter on October 1st, 2009 4:56 pm

    Hi Alicia,

    Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe CEO bonuses based on five year results. No bonuses for the first 4 years of your tenure.


  5. Gene Anderson on October 22nd, 2009 12:28 pm

    So… interestingly enough…today in the news we see that the major shareholder in some of the largest banks in the US, has told the senior executives, that their pay will be DECREASED by up to 90% in 2009. Imagine that… executives being held accountable for their performance???

    (that major shareholder is the US taxpayer, and I for one, am glad to see some action in this area)

    In private enterprise, if either by poor business execution or just bad luck, a company gets into a financial situation where they need to raise money to continue business operations, when a new major shareholder comes in, and fronts the money to keep things rolling, they most assuredly have the right to pay the executives they CHOOSE to keep, the kind of compensation that they feel is prudent.

    chuckles… just my 2 cents…

  6. Onegi P Jenaro on May 12th, 2010 4:45 am

    I am glad to contribute to th above articles as a CEO of a small and young development company limited by guarantee.

    My experience is that for organizational success and sustainability to be achieved, an organization needs to ensure that things are done right at operational level and that the right things at strategic levels. This assumes that all other factors are, however, remain constant. This means that given factors like the current economic downturn, an organization can still fail after doing things right and/or doing the right thing. Notwithstanding this, however, an organization should always ensure things are done right and the right things are done.

    Onegi P Jenaro, MBA