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Acountability vs Responsibility

If someone does something on your behalf & makes a mistake, whose fault is it? They might be responsible for the error, but if you're tasking them with fulfilling your legal obligation, then the accountability rests with you. Unless that is, you're Novak Djokovic, who today rolled out the age-old 'wasn't me' excuse with a side order of 'human error' to explain how an immigration form was incorrectly completed. Not by him, you understand, but by his agent.

Given Djokovic' current situation, the statement will obviously have been carefully crafted by Lawyers and his Public Relations team. They've obviously decided that publicly blaming someone else, is the smartest strategy. And they may well, of course, be right.

But we've also seen lots of examples where the 'blame a bad apple/junior employee/renegade operative' excuse isn't as effective as it might once have appeared to be. That's because ethical 'footprints' — both *what* organisations and individuals do, but also *how* they do it — is coming under greater scrutiny. Playing the 'blame game' when you're clearly ultimately accountable for what happens, doesn't feel particularly ethical and tends to alienate customers. And if you're in a regulated industry, there's a strong likelihood your regulator won't like it either.

So, what might work for Djokovic and appears to be not working for current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the jury is clearly still out on both — is probably not a smart strategy for the rest of us. After all, as the statement says 'we are living in challenging times...and mistakes can occur'. Which is true. But if that's the case, then why not own the error?


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