Friday, July 27, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Ac- count- a- bil- i- ty
The state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account; the obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform as expected; accountableness.
[-Webster 1913 ]
Webster provides one of the oldest modern definitions of the word, although the concept is probably as old as society. (In which we hunted, gathered, and held each other accountable). Things were simpler back in 1913. Nowadays words like 'accountability' take on divergent meanings and convey different ideas to different people.
"Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability, enforcement, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability...." (wikipedia)
Words with diverse or various meanings are not such fantastic things to throw around when you are attempting to clearly define and communicate a company vision.
Compared to transparency:
"Accountability differs from transparency in that it only enables negative feedback after a decision or action, while transparency also enables negative feedback before or during a decision or action" (wikipedia)
When everyone is working in integrity, everyone benefits even when mistakes are made. Everyone needs to take responsibility and be actively in integrity in all things all the time, not just at work but in society.
I don't think we should harbor the idea that mistakes are bad and wrong and should be punished in some way. An honest mistake is one that is made in integrity.
A dishonest mistake is an intentional wrongdoing disguised as an honest mistake. Dishonesty is the kind of thing we should be discouraging. Politics, power games, and similar wastes of time all come out of this negative, reactive mentality.
'In another view, accountability is a simple word that, at its root, means: "the willingness to stand up and be counted -- as part of a process, activity or game." In this sense, then, accountability is less something I'm held to, or something done to me; rather, it is a word reflecting personal choice and willingness to contribute to an expressed or implied outcome.' (wikipedia)
That's a very positive interpretation, far from words like liability, blameworthiness, enforcement, etc, which for me bring to mind things like punishment, prison, torture, execution. (Execution is another word that needs some clarification in the corporate context.)
I've been confused lately about the meaning of this word, and now I see why.
Like most words that become a part of corporate dialect, it can be interpreted in a handful of ways. A word with many meanings has no meaning.
Hmmm! Vertical airships! I like where they are going with that. The big problem with airships is wind. The other one is obstacles. Occasionally bumping into big buildings would not be a too much of a problem. An airframe should be able to withstand a collision at a reasonable speed without failing. A flexible frame that can deform significantly combined with an overpressure relief and recovery system would allow the gas envelope to survive hard landings and mid-air collisions. Semi rigid ships have no gas pressure in the envelope. There is no danger of an envelope popping like a balloon, and most of the time envelope punctures can be repaired in flight.
Airships are like big boats. They need to be able to follow headings that are close to the wind without slipping leeward. Variable envelope geometry provides the ability to change drag and lift properties in flight, and could also act much like a sail while using engine thrust as a kind of air keel. This may be more efficient than just powering directly into the wind, especially at lower altitudes where air density is greater.
I could just ramble on about how this stuff might work all day, but really it needs some testing. Lots of testing. But anyway, vertical ships shaped like sails looks like a good idea if the lift dynamics are correct. I think large horizontal envelopes provide more lifting power though. Like a barge.