Shahzad Bhatti Welcome to my ramblings and rants!

March 4, 2006

Responsibility vs Accountability

Filed under: Computing — admin @ 8:07 pm

Based on Jim O’ Coplien’s book on organization patterns, you can not give responsibility to anyone. Only someone can accept it, however you can hold someone accountable. According to Kent Beck, accountability entails reporting back on what happened and responsibility means sticking with the problem in trying to solve it. However, you cannot hold someone accountable if you don’t provide enough resources to him to complete his job. I think this last statement is specially true and I have dealt with numerous situations when management never provided tools or resources to finish the job or do the job right. For example, recently I was trying to track an application bug that caused some financial damage. However, due to complexity of the system, the log files were of terabytes. Worse, there isn’t any data-mining tools to query the logs instead you have to do zgrep on huge compressed files and it takes days to search. In the meantime management keeps bugging when will the financial data be ready. This is another example of an organization where daily firefighting prevents anyone to think about any long term solutions to common problems.

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