Empowerment ranks right up there with motherhood and apple pie on most people’s list of absolute goods. But there’s a fine line between decentralization and abrogation. High performing decentralized organizations focused on service and customer experience operate with guided accountability. Not giving decentralized leaders that guidance is an abrogation of senior leadership’s responsibilities and a recipe for chaos.

The key to success in a decentralized organization is guided accountability. Guided accountability has two parts. The accountability has to be real. That means it has to be delegated – for real. And it has to be accepted – for real. Accountability is a two-edged sword with positive consequences for success and negative consequences for failure.

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