Ownership And Commitment - Control And Dedication

We have many words that we use to describe how we want people to behave at work and in life. We want people to be accountable, to be responsible, to take ownership or take the lead. Often I feel that gets misinterpreted as control.

Take the word ownership, when we think we own something for some reason we think we can control it. If you own a business you are in charge, and there are pieces you can control. You can control who you hire and fire. You can control your pricing. You can control the features your product has. You have no control over how the people behave, if your customers like your product and if anyone will buy it.

If you own a house you can control the temperature and the color of the walls but you can't control a storm breaking a window. If you own a car you can control how often you wash it but you can't control if someone hits you in the parking lot.

Being accountable or responsible can be viewed in a similar fashion. It is important to find the right words. Words that will actually convey what you want them to.

A better word to use I believe is commitment. The definition of commitment is the state of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. When I think of commitment I think of my relationship with my wife. We are committed to each other and our family. It means that we are dedicated to each other and our family. It means doing whatever is needed to help and support each other and our kids. I can't control my wife or my kids, and I certainly don't own them, but I can be committed to them.

Think about being committed to your team, your project, your company or your job. You become dedicated to it. The ideas of ownership, accountability and responsibility, or the concepts we want those things to mean, flow effortlessly out of our actions when we are committed to something. There is a difference in being responsible for a task or being committed to a task.

Now in the past I've written about ownership and it may seem like a contradiction, but I don't believe there is. The difference is in what you can control. I completely believe you should take ownership, but only over the things that you can control. It is when we try to take ownership of things we can't control we see things start to break down.

The real heart of the matter is what do the words mean to you? Is it about control or is it about being dedicated to something succeeding? If the words don't drive the outcomes we want, we need to pick words that do.


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