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Accountability is the act of knowing where something or someone is at any given moment. This is crucial in today’s professional environment for a couple of different reasons. Companies, businesses, and pretty much anything that is being used to represent a group of people or has some kind of image it needs/wants to uphold has to maintain accountability for many different things. Whether it be equipment it uses to do its job or employees that assist customers and get the jobs that need to be done, done. Eventually a job has to be done by someone and if the job is in high demand then it is crucial to keep checks of the location of things so that when something needs to get done everything can fall in place.
The Army. The United states army. Is well known as one of, if not the, biggest company/organization of the world. In 2017 the projected strength of the armed forces was 1,281,900 servicemembers. Not to mention the other 801 thousand people in the seven reserve components. What does such numbers like this mean? It’s simple. It means that there is well over 2 million people who can be anywhere at any time. This is a perfect example of the crucial and effectiveness of accountability. For example, let’s say that a single unit of about 400 soldiers has to be at a set location in a set amount of time. Tossing out all procedures, preparations, orders in which to do things. Lets focus strictly on a group of soldiers getting moved from point A to point B. Things happen and the time frame given expires. A count of the soldiers is done. What happens? Less than half of the total number of soldiers is there. Out of a grand total of 400 soldiers only 148 of them show up. Present and accounted for. Ok… Where is everyone else?
This is where things start to go south. The group was needed to intercept an enemy group of about 268 individuals. Not only are the soldiers outnumbered, but now they don’t know if a possible reason for their missing troops could perhaps be from enemy ambushes. Perhaps the enemy already knows exactly where they are and were just dwindling their numbers to pick off each soldier one by one with guerrilla tactics. No one knows where the other soldiers are and that means there is a gap in information. Or rather a lack of information. Information that has not only cripple the mission but also endangered the remaining soldiers who actually got to where they were supposed to be at their supposed time. With no information the commander in charge of the operation has to make decisions on whether or not the mission can be accomplished.
That story is just one example of how situations can become dangerous all because the accountability of something, in that case someone, could affect others who were actually doing as they were meant to do. It is troubling to know that despite doing the right thing you yourself could find yourself in harm’s way. That is only one point of view. Perhaps the mission was carried out successfully. No doubt it was made much more difficult not knowing who knows what and accepting the lack of their own knowledge but it is the army and we are not known for backing down when things get tough. We adapt and make changes to get the job done to the best of our abilities.
As I have mentioned before making sure you have knowledge of where someone or something is can be crucial at any given moment. The previous example I had given focused more on 2 things rather than one. Not knowing where soldiers were and also the implications that could be drawn from the lack of knowing where they were. I’d like to somewhat redirect that focus to give an example on what could happen when not having tools and/or equipment at the ready could also be just as dangerous to show it’s importance as well. A tool is nothing without someone or something to wield it. I’d also not fully focus on in army situations. I’d like to broaden the scope of possibilities as well to more common situations.
It’s coming close to that time of the day. Everything was planned weeks in advance. Everyone knew what to do and where to stand. The lights were dimmed and the room grew increasingly silent. No one was in open view. The line of sights had been broken and everyone waited. Their hearts beginning to race as the seconds began to feel like minutes, minutes felt like hours. Your own heart felt like it was beating against your chest with a thousand forces. The sweat dripping from your brow. But none of this was from fear or pressure. It was excitement. Taking a breath that, to you, sounded like the groan as if someone just read the most boring speech and a random individual requested it to be read again because they had fallen asleep at part of it. Then it that’s when the true moment came. The sound of the tumblers of the door clicked and turned before stopping short. Metallic jingling was echoed through the wall as you assumed keys were being used to unlock it. The door opened in a normal fashion and in the next second the lights flicked on. This was your que to strike!!! “SURPRISE!!!” The sound of birthday horns and confetti bursts from everyone in hiding. The guest of honor undoubtedly shocked if not surprised so many people got into their room when the door was locked, but that info could wait till another time. Everyone got together and congratulated them on their wonderous day. Then that’s when it happened. “So what kind of cake did yall get?” The rooms festive cheers and chats soon started to dim into silence as they turned to you. The one in charge of everything. The planer. The one who spent weeks to get everything as great as you could… “Well?..” Your face turns slightly pale. The key point of an average party. The one that everyone gathers around to sing the infamous song. Gone? Your mind goes into a swift panic. Racing though thought after thought. What happened? What did I do? Where did I put it? You come up with a good reply. “Haha.” The nervousness in your voice was somewhat evident if not only cause of the long pause you had taken before speaking. “It’s in the back. I had to keep it safe before bringing it out.” The room laughs it off and continues to chat. That’s when you slip to the back. Looking on the counters, the fridge, the pantry, everywhere a cake would normally be. But nothing. You find the candles and the lighter but that cake eludes you. Weeks of planning. In the end you were only barely able to recall buying a cake because you had known baking was not your forte so to speak. Well. What can you do? You failed to keep track of where you put something and not only that it was something that is rather important. You traced your steps back as far as you could and even checked all the locations that would make the best sense for cake to be. Just as you were about to give up a slight chill runs down your back. What was that? The freezer door seems to be slightly cracked. A torment of memories floods your mind and you quickly rush towards it and flings it open. There it is. You didn’t just buy any old regular cake. No no. You went ahead and got an ice cream cake. You waste no time and whip it together. Add the candles, light it and que everyone to hit the lights. The dim light emitting from the kitchen lets everyone know what time it is. As you step out with the cake on a plate everyone begins singing in unison. It sounds great. The candles are blown out and everyone cheers once more. “Alright time to cut the cake… Hey. Where’s the knife?…” Silence falls once more.
Ok granted this one is vastly tamed compared to the first story but the point is still there. Keeping track of things is important. I just wanted to show that no matter the situation it should never be taken for granted the importance of accountability. We are all human beings in this world and we all can share some level of understanding with one another on many different topics. It’s mostly through example that we are able to convey how we feel about things. Common sense is a commodity that seems to fall through the cracks as life rolls along. There has to be some kind of order. Some common ground. Accountability of personnel and equipment is important. That is something that can’t be stressed enough. There is too many situations that are as diverse as the examples give that explain this. In a rush to get to work and lose the keys to your car. Off to catch a show and lose the ticket. An intruder in the house and you don’t know where your phone or protection equipment is. Fires, floods, going to the atm. The interesting thing to notice is between all the things I mentioned I feel confident that one item missing from any of those scenarios would lead things into hazards that no one wants to face. One time. That’s really all it takes. One time for something to be lost at a crucial time when it’s needed is all it takes and I feel thoughts like that is not as common as it should be. A lot of items that we have now a day is taken for granted. We give common items passing thoughts and don’t really take time to place everything where it should be should we need it. I’m learning now and will continue to learn the importance of keeping accountability and to do better in the future to ensure that I am at my designated locations at the designated times.
That seems to be something I failed to mention up until now. It’s not just about knowing where others are or where other things are. I have to know where I need to be and make an effort to be at that place at the times I need to be. Failing to do that lead to something similar that I mentioned in the first scenario. Lack of information. Who knows what a day may hold. Things can change on a minute to minute and even second basis. Locations of where I would need to be or where I should go next can be delivered at any time and me missing a place of business would inhibit me to getting that info. Let’s add on to the first situation. Let’s say That out of the 252 soldiers that were not in the formation or at the location, lets for the sake of discussion state that I was one of them. Do I have an excuse? Of course. I wasn’t given the information of the location I needed to be. Alright. Now who does that fall upon? To find that out we need to further understand the situation. It could easily just be the one in charge of me but once it came to light that the place I was supposed to be is where the information was given out to the group. Well. Then it’s my fault and mine alone. Every soldier not there was not there for basically the same reason. It was put out that the location had changed due to possible intel leak and by us going there not only put us at risk it put the rest of the group at risk while engaging an enemy that out numbered them. I put my fellow soldiers in danger. Should anything have happened to them because I failed to be somewhere I should be. Then it would have to be something I would carry. So I understand the reason and purpose of accountability. As I said. I plan to better myself and make sure to be where I need to be from now on.
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