Category: Avoidance of Accountability


There was a movie a few years back, “What About Bob” where Bill Murray drives Richard Dreyfus to distraction every time Dreyfus tries to get Murray out and away from Dreyfus’ vacation time. But so lovable is old Bob (Murray), that Dreyfus’ family becomes fond of him and wants to be sure that Bob is included in whatever they do lest Bob’s feelings be hurt.

Well what about Bob (from our last blog post, not Bill Murray)?  You know, the one who submarined the flimsy-consensus his shared decision making team had made about a homework policy by not really buying into what the group had agreed to.

Would you have wanted Bob to have signed the Declaration of Independence?

Let’s fast forward the script from the previous post where Bob made it clear in the faculty room that he had not really bought into the agreement about homework policy that the group had adopted.

Two weeks later. The scene is the principal’s faculty meeting. “As you may know your school’s Shared Decision Making Team, as a result of trying to pin down root causes for our students’ achievement, decided to put a homework policy in place.”

Before she could continue, teacher Ted raised his hand and interrupted. “Excuse me, I was just wondering how this group came to consensus and agreed to putting this in place.  I mean, did they consider all the yes-buts about a blanket homework policy?”

The principal turned to the Shared Decision Making Team Chair and said. ” Would you like to take this question?”

She nodded. Then said, “Ted you were a member of this team under the old principal. Thankfully our new principal has worked hard to invigorate and empower this process to improve our students’ achievement. Here is how we came to consensus. We looked at the data. We tried to establish what the root causes that may be driving our achievement concerns. The group agreed that students’ time on task seemed to be a problem what with pull outs, school activities, and other interruptions. We thought that one solution to this was to increase homework so that we could formalize and increase the amount of time that students spent practicing what they learned in school that day.”

Ted shook his head. “I can see what you are thinking yet I cannot agree that more homework would solve the root cause you centered on. There’s all kinds of research refuting the value of homework.”

The faculty began to stir. Questions and concerns came from round the room to the Chair. Finally Ted asked, “And the group, the team, they all agreed to this?”

The Chair looked at her faculty colleague members. “Well, the parent-members are not here obviously, but your four faculty members did.”

More murmurs rolled round the room. Ted pointedly looked at Bob. “Bob, I heard you were not altogether ok with this yet you agreed to it. What will you do when this policy falls on its face?”

The murmurs thickened. Bob, flushed, unwilling as a new teacher to differ with a veteran colleague. The Chair stirred too. Then she whispered to Nan, who was next to her, and also a member of the Shared Decision Making team, “How much does it really matter? If the policy doesn’t work it’s not like we lose our jobs, or get a pay cut.”

Get your arms around this. Lencioni’s description of Lack of Accountability is that the group avoids difficult issues and also is unwilling to hold each other’s behavior to task if it interferes with the effective operation of the team.

Two issues in one? Avoiding difficult issues? Such as? And such as?

Such as Bob’s cutting and running when challenged by his faculty colleague?

Such as the Chair’s avoiding her own responsibility to hold the group to what they had agreed to or at very least to committing to reexamining it?

Recently I was on a Dissertation committee where the candidate proposed an action research study that would among other things, involve training fellow music teachers in using and collaborating about evaluating music teachers’ “effectiveness” in their instruction via a Moodle approach.

The proposal was excellent and has much, much promise for teachers on “non”-academic subjects as they will also be responsible for showing student “growth” by requirement of the New York State Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). His dissertation defense few months later was beyond terrific.

In the beginning though , I  was more than a little bit skeptical about the training-of-colleagues component with the Moodle. Moodle is an open source wiki-like Web 2.0 approach. A wiki site if you have never used Wikipedia as an example,  is a site that enables its members to add to, elaborate, and create new information for that site for the rest of its viewers.

This soon-to-be- Ed.D’s premise was that the Moodle would be a source to its participants in shaping how they might incorporate the online rating system that he had developed. It would also serve as a training platform so that participants could learn how to both use the Moodle and to implement the rating system.

At the time I remarked to now Dr. X, “This could be like herding cats.”

By the way, he more than pulled it off. However my concern in principle for all groups,whether face-to-face, or virtual had validity. For you see, as you already know instinctively, groups need to both be grown and grow themselves.

This is no easy task. Although there are plenty of examples to offer I’d like to offer Patrick Lencioni’s work as a good example.

Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team captures issues associated with effective group development in a tiered system that has much value.

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

In closing this blog post I’d strongly suggest that the Group Facilitator (I hate that word) not keep Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions as secret code. In fact, it is both healthy and conducive to the group’s evolution that they become aware of these Five Dysfunctions as they operate among each other. As they learn the “language” they learn to be aware of the presence of these dysfunctions and more likely collaborate to eliminate or reduce them!

Next blog post – Absence of  TRUST!