Posted by: JC Gatlin | December 6, 2009

Counter Measures: Who’s Responsible?


I know what you’re thinking… You get to the counter measure and say, “Sam and I are going to implement this task together.” So you list “Yourself/Sam” as the responsible person on the PDCA. It won’t work.

Ever heard the saying, “A dog with two masters is either very fat or very thin?”

If you and Sam both are responsible for completing the task, sooner or later one of you will think the other is doing it and then — BOOM! — the task is left incomplete.

A counter measure is assigned to one person on the PDCA group only. That responsible person will ensure that the counter measure is initiated and completed by the target date. Then, later, that responsible person will follow-up to see if the counter measure actually achieved the expected results. The responsible person is ALWAYS a member of the PDCA group — never someone outside the group. And never, ever is the responsible person a position title.

But wait a minute — what if you really want to implement this counter measure with Sam? That’s fine. You can both work on it together. But first you must choose: Are you responsible for ensuring the improvement is made or is Sam responsible?

It’s like feeding the dog: Maybe another member of your household takes a turn filling the dog bowl. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make sure the dog doesn’t go hungry.

© December 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. Good point…

    Regarding that the responsible person is never a position title, I think people put position titles down because they’re thinking “From now on, the Construction Manager will always do it this way…” etc. But the counter measure should really read that “SWIS # will be updated so that the Construction Manager will always do it this way” or “A Hot Spot Sheet will be created…” or “The System Standards will be updated…” etc.

    If they’re putting a position title as the responsible person, somethings wrong with the counter measure.

    By the way, poor Sadie…

  2. I once had a kaizen event where a management sponsor wanted to people to co-lead the event. I faught that knowing that two leaders never work out. I enjoyed your dog analogies. I will have to remember that next time.

  3. The old saying “two heads are better than one” can be dangerous in PDCA if misunderstood… You can have two people, 2 sets of knowledge, but one person to ensure the standardization takes place. That way the future is protected and the Dog will never go Hungary!

    Great analogy and a really great point JC!

  4. Great point.

    A friend of ours says this a bit more bluntly: “if both kids are responsible to feed the dog, the dog starves.”

    This is why we teach use of RACI for decision making and action. R = responsible, A = accountable, C = consult, I = inform. I actually think some of the most helpful piece is clarifying the difference between consult and inform. If someone things that you are expected to consult with them, but you only think you’ll inform them of the decision, much trouble can be caused.

    Whether a large project or ongoing decision making, getting high agreement of both the what and how of decision making helps a great deal.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh

  5. Premium blogpost, great looking blog, added it to my favs!!

  6. […] The Responsible Who must be a single (1) individual. Sue and Bob may work on and implement the counter measure together, but either Sue is ultimately responsible for it, or Bob is. Not both. There’s an old saying, “A dog with two masters is either really fat or really skinny.”   […]

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