Taking 100% responsibility

I have a concept about relationships that I really like (even if I sometimes forget to follow its teachings):  In any meaningful relationship (business, personal or otherwise) each person should be 100% responsible for that relationship. I used to think that a relationship involved each of the parties to be responsible for 50% (i.e., and therefore the total 100% would be taken care of). I guess that works in theory, but if you think about it, your relationships will be much more meaningful (and fulfilling) if you take 100% responsibility for them. This plays well into my recent post on communication. If each person in a relationship is taking 100% responsibility for the communication in a relationship that communication is likely to be much more frequent and meaningful than if each person is waiting for it to happen ½ of the time (which is, of course, what happens if each person only takes 50% responsibility).

I’ve had a couple of break-downs in communication in the past few weeks – one with one of the CEOs I work with and another with a member of the executive team of one of our portfolio companies – and I realize that in both cases if I had taken full responsibility for the communication these break-downs would not have  happened. These were relatively minor,but being a VC is largely about the relationships one has (with entrepreneurs, with CEO’s and executive teams, with other VCs, with people in the extended community in which we live and work, etc.) – so taking them seriously is really a key part of my job. Hopefully next time I’ll remember my own advice . . .

  • mrjefe

    Multi-tasking does have its downs…

  • Dave Jilk

    A corollary is that taking 100% responsibility should explicitly include monitoring whether the other person is also taking responsibility, and if they are not, to call them to task for it. Some people sense that you are willing to take 100% responsibility and take that as an invitation to take a small or 0% responsibility.

  • mrjefe

    Agreed wholeheartedly. I would imagine that the tendency to advantage of the situation to be a tempting proposition.
    Several years ago, while running the high tech division of a PLC in Malaysia, I had to contend with some 10 GMs on a day-to-day basis. At some point, it became evident to me that the onus of monitoring needed to shift towards the focused and not vice versa.