Some quotes from the book

I’m about halfway through the book Accountability: Freedom and Responsibility Without Control by Rob Lebow and Randy Spitzer, and there are some quotes I think are worth sharing:

Control systems allow people to cop out on accountability. You hear people saying, ‘I have no choice; the system won’t allow me to do anything else.’ When this happens, you know people have become dependent on the system and, more important, will never become accountable. You often hear people ask, ‘Who’s accountable?’ when what they really mean is, ‘Who’s to blame?’ (pp. 65-66)

You’ve got to create an environment that gives people the individual freedom to experiment and explore new ideas. This means giving people choices and control over their own jobs, and it means that you must let go of the idea that there is only one way of doing a task. (p. 94)

You can’t expect people to take risks if you continue to insist that they seek approval for every action! You can’t craft policies and procedures based on the assumption that people can’t be trusted, while at the same time expecting them to use their best judgment and to do the right thing! And you can’t dictate policies and at the same time empower people. It just won’t work! (p. 97)

Making a freedom-based environment work requires that you stop managing people and stop trying to control them. (p. 98)

A manager is someone who has done such a poor job of hiring that he or she has now got to watch the poor devils on a full-time basis. (p. 98)

…In contrast, Matsushita Electric was run on a philosophy of accountability, honor, and trust. (p.100)

How does an organization create the conditions where the employees show loyalty and do great things? ….If you want a truly loyal group of employees, you need to treat them ethically, and you need to treat them the way you’d want to be treated–with dignity, respect, and trust. (p.105)

Maybe what we’ve identified as a lack of loyalty in the younger generation is really a reflection of the way we’ve been treating them…These younger people feel constrained by all the controls that don’t seem to bother our older workers. But we can’t afford to lose anyone, especially not our future generation of leaders. (p. 105)


  1. The authors say, “Making a freedom-based environment work requires that you stop managing people and stop trying to control them ” (p. 98, emphasis mine). This could seem contradictory: what should managers do if not manage people?

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