Metrics that look good in a report may still leave stakeholders frustrated. Accountability refers to responsibility for a task. Ownership refers to responsibility for end-to-end delivery, which translates to a satisfied customer.
Chris Lema writes a humorous analogy: Have you heard the joke about the chicken and the pig? When it comes to a ham and egg breakfast, only one is committed, while the other is just involved. It’s the same distinction when it comes to accountability and ownership.
The challenge for managers is how to take someone who is accountable, and foster them to graduate to ownership. This begins by learning to delegate your “ownership” responsibilities, elements of your job that you think only you can or should do.
Gradually, give your most responsible teammates more to own. Help them by giving them a bigger stake, a bigger role, a bigger reason and need to be committed (rather than involved). Give them greater ownership over the whole, instead of just the parts.
Zapier sought-out a way to ground engineers in the needs of customers. They want to assure feature building isn’t done in a vacuum. They do this by rotating engineers into bug fixing and customer support. This advances a culture where each person is not only accountable for his or her work, but also takes ownership for delivery and satisfied customers.