Build a Foundation of Accountability


The Accountability Chart plays a key role in running the Entrepreneurial Operating System® at a business. As a living part of the EOS Process®, the Accountability Chart offers teams a way to get in sync and succeed together. For leaders, the chart and its corollary ideas, like Right People, Right Seats, provide a straightforward framework for delegating responsibilities and shaping an effective organization. For reporting employees, the chart clarifies who is responsible for what roles, and why.

How does the EOS® Accountability Chart differ from a standard organization chart?

At first the EOS® Accountability Chart may resemble a conventional organization chart. For my clients who already have a detailed illustration of their reporting structure, the process of developing the Accountability Chart has raised questions about whether it’s necessary. One CEO suggested his team could skip that part of the Focus Day™ script and dive into applying EOS principles to their existing chart.

I asked that he take a leap of faith in the process, because the Accountability Chart is not just an org chart—it’s something much more.

Developing the Accountability Chart offers a business at any stage of its growth an opportunity to approach its operating structure with a fresh perspective. It involves taking several steps back to examine the business as a business, putting aside the people and politics that might drive current day-to-day operations. 

For my skeptical client, drawing up the Accountability Chart revealed a number of important things about the business. For example, the standard Accountability Chart we use as a starting point bundles accounting, HR, IT, and other “back office” functions under the Finance label. At their business, IT had been bundled under Operations for years. The person in the Operations seat explained how inefficient it was to divide her time between IT and the services side of the business. 

It was like a light had gone on. The team decided to test out putting IT under Finance (their CFO). Six months later, the head of Operations had finished projects she’d put off for years for lack of time. The IT department was finding it easier to get things done, too, because they had a direct line to the financial decision-makers who could approve the projects they felt were needed. 

Accountability is about more than management.

It’s important to recognize that accountability is not the same thing as responsibility to a boss. One of the mantras of EOS is “one seat, one person.” The ultimate responsibility for meeting the requirements of a particular seat still rests with the person who is sitting in it. The natural accountability relationship of managers and staff is still present. But accountability also may flow across or even up the chain of command. The result is better communication between business units that might have been trapped inside their individual silos, creating a stronger foundation of mutual support.

Developing the Accountability Chart can be a creative process. One of my clients laid out their chart using different colored lines to indicate when accountability flows in one direction—the conventional relationship of managers to staff—and when they wanted the lines of accountability to go back and forth. 

I work with a business that was struggling with retention problems and communication challenges between their business units. They had tried holding regular meetings with different department heads to resolve some of the issues, but without real results. 

What they needed was accountability.

Their CEO described what the Accountability Chart did for them this way: “What we needed was permission to tell each other when we weren’t getting it done.” The permission wasn’t just among the top few leaders, but went all the way through the business. “Just telling our employees we wanted them to hold us to task gave them a real sense of control over what was happening.” 

The sense at the company is that employee engagement is up and people are excited about the direction the EOS Process has helped them uncover. In other words, they’ve got a stronger team to build upon.

Clear accountability sets the stage for sustainable growth.

The EOS Process begins with the Accountability Chart because it sets the stage for the rest of the system’s approach. More importantly, it gets leadership teams on the same page about what the business really needs to thrive. Central to that idea is illustrating how a team will support each other—through accountability—in their day-to-day work and as the business evolves to meet new challenges.

In my role as a Professional EOS Implementer® I’ve seen how challenging it can be to craft an Accountability Chart for the first time. I do whatever it takes to help leadership teams define what their business needs, and what each key stakeholder needs, to achieve their goals. 

Interested in learning more about your Accountability Chart or other aspects of EOS? Give me a call!