Tuesday, January 25, 2022

“Do” or “Responsible”?

“So, what do you do?”   Perhaps the most common question in business.

“I flip burgers.”

“I’m a manufacturing supervisor.” 

“I analyze loan requests.” 

“I umpire Class A minor league baseball”

“I’m a project manager.”  

Each describes an activity.   How the person spends her time.   Perhaps enjoyably.   Perhaps only to pay bills.

What changes if, instead, the question is “So, for what are you responsible?” 

Taken seriously, the answers might be:

“I’m responsible to properly cook hamburger patties when I get a request from the front line crew.” 

“I’m responsible for 15 people’s safety, training, productivity and quality processes to serve our customers.” 

“I’m responsible for proposing loan decisions which allow our bank to take on appropriate risk.” 

“I’m responsible for the smooth execution of baseball games allowing each player to compile accurate statistics in his quest to move closer to the Major Leagues.” 

“I’m responsible for delivering new product prototypes according to its specifications and timelines.”   

Being responsible is being professional.   It’s owning the purpose of your job and the results of your job.   It’s the opposite of just punching in and taking up space.   

Likely, people will ask “What do you do?”   

But try answering it with your responsibilities next time.   It changes your view of your job. 


*My thanks to Tom Peters for triggering this concept for me many years ago.  

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