Game Changing Small Business Tools: What Is An Accountability Chart ™?

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What is an Accountability Chart™? That’s a question I hear a lot, usually followed by, “how is this different from an organizational chart?” The simple answer? Org Charts describe what people do or who they report to. Accountability Charts change what people do. And changing what people do is how we help give Dallas Traction ®.

What Is An Organizational Chart

An organizational chart is the document that tells everyone in the organization who is in charge of whom. It’s a document meant to illustrate and solidify reporting hierarchy. An organizational chart does a very good job of that one very specific task. The problem is that is basically all it does.

The org chart assigns titles and reporting structure. No more. No less.

Creating an organizational chart is easy. Why? Because everyone already knows the reporting hierarchy. That is ingrained into the day to day operations of nearly every business in the world.

What Is An Accountability Chart?

When we teach businesses in Dallas EOS® (The Entrepreneurial Operating System®), one of the first things we have them do is build an Accountability Chart. When they inevitably ask “what is an Accountability Chart,” or “how is an Accountability Chart different than an organizational chart,” I get to smile, because the leadership team is about to learn something very valuable.

An Accountability Chart doesn’t chart structure. Instead, it charts the ownership of responsibilities throughout your business.  It’s built on the idea that if more than one person is responsible, no one is responsible. This isn’t just marketing or branding. It’s called the Free Rider Problem and it’s a sociological issue that has persisted for centuries. 

The Accountability Chart addresses this issue by setting out exactly who is accountable for every task in the entire business. At the end of the day one person is accountable for making it happen. 

In a large business the leadership team might have an accountability chart that looks something like this:

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Notice there aren’t any titles. An Accountability Chart isn’t about giving people titles, it’s about getting things done.

That said, every company does have 3 major roles to fill: Sales, Operations, and Finance. Without those three your product doesn’t get sold, made, or paid for. And someone has to keep everyone moving in the same direction. In the Entrepreneurial Operating System, that someone is called an Integrator. Your organization might call them a CEO or President.

How Do I Build An Accountability Chart?

Step 1: Build Your List

Now that you’ve answers the question “what is an Accountability Chart,” it’s time to make your own.

The first step is to list out all of the high level tasks that keep your business running. If you have a leadership team, sit them down and everyone just start writing. If you operate a small business, you can bring in your management team or do this alone.

Make a list of everything you can think of that absolutely has to happen on a leadership team level. This list doesn’t include things like “make sure the widgets get waxed.” But, if you follow that up the chain, eventually you hit “quality assurance” and that is a high level responsibility.

Step 2: KKC

KKC, or Keep – Kill – Combine, is my favorite part of being a Certified EOS Impelmenter in Dallas, because it exemplifies using the 5 Leadership Abilities. Specifically, it helps us learn to simplify.

For every item on your list, you have 3 options: Keep it. Kill it. Combine it. Write all of the responsibilities you thought up on a white board, then do one of the following for each item.

Keep It

It stays. This is a high level responsibility that someone on your leadership team will be accountable for.

Kill It

This goes. Most likely this just isn’t high enough level. If that’s the case, write it on a separate paper for later.  This can be assigned to an employee within a departmental Accountability Chart.

Combine It

This item is similar enough to another item on your list and can be combined.

Step 3

Build a solid Accountability Chart begins with dedicating yourself to the idea that drives it: If more than one person is responsible, then no one is responsible. It’s a simple concept, but far from easy.

Take the time to hash out with your team exactly who owns each of your final responsibilities. Each person should own about 3-7. Less than that means you may have a leadership team that is over-sized. More than that means one person is going to be overloaded. If you have too many responsibilities, it’s time to learn how to Delegate and Elevate™.

This process isn’t easy, but it is worth the work. Almost every organization I have worked with struggles with this. The old way of doing things, that appeal to tradition, makes people comfortable in keeping the responsibilities they already have. 

Getting every person to recognize, understand, and accept the responsibilities on the chart will take time. But, once it’s done, you will have not just built some flimsy document that goes on the wall, you’ll have built a culture of responsibility within your organization.

And that’s the difference between an organizational chart and an Accountability Chart.


What If My Leadership Team Can’t Agree On An Accountability Chart?

This isn’t uncommon. It’s hard to diagnose exactly what is causing this without sitting in with a team. Usually I advise reaching into the EOS Toolbox™ for the following:


Get it, Want it, Capacity to do it. Not everyone is made for every job. They have to meet these 3 simple criteria. The team member has to Get it, or understand what the job entails. They have to Want it, meaning they need to enjoy or strive for the work. And they need to have the Capacity to do it. If a member of your leadership team is missing even one of these, you’re going to have a hard time getting an Accountability Chart built.

Issue Solving Track™

The Issue Solving Track ™ can cut through a lot of politicking and talking. It turns meetings into action-oriented problem solving machines and puts your team on track to achieve real Traction.



If you’re still having trouble with building an Accountability Chart after using the GWC and the Issue Solving Track, you might find real value in attending one of our webinars or seminars. Or, if you’re ready to start improving your business today, contact us for a free consultation call.


EOS Consultation Call, 90 minute meeting

Need More Help?


Contact US for a free  consultation phone call on what the Entrepreneurial Operating System can do for you.

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Whittle & Partners is a consulting group that provides EOS™ Implementation in the United States and beyond. We offer in-person and online solutions to fit your business and schedule.Visit our about us page to learn how and why we love bringing Dallas Traction.

Jeff Whittle is a Certified Dallas EOS Implementer.


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