In order for our businesses and ourselves to grow, it’s critical that we are able to give others responsibility.  But empowering others with too much latitude can often lead to nothing getting done.

I  was once a part of a fantastic group of bloggers in a combined– and ultimately failed– new blog project.  Each blogger was extremely smart and creative and as such, was given the latitude to set parameters relating to their contribution.  They could pick the topic, the posting day and the posting frequency.  The only commitment was that you were asked to contribute at least twice a month.

That should seem easy enough for anyone to follow and certainly smart adults should be able to stick to that schedule, but for many people, without structure, it’s impossible to continue to deliver on time (or at all).

I come from a world of structure, so I picked my specific posting days (every other Tuesday) and wrote it in to my calendar for the next 12 months.  I also wrote- as I often do- several months-worth of content at a time and preloaded it for the future dates that I had set for myself.

It was a strong start, but over time, the regularity of many of the contributors faded.

I suggested to the blog’s owner that we put in place an editorial calendar.  This would assign various dates to each blogger that they would be responsible for.  They would still retain flexibility and could even trade dates if they desired.  But the most important facet is that it would create accountability to the project.  If a date was missed, it was because of one person, not because “nobody else” showed up that day.

If you have staff, collaborators or even service providers that you are giving latitude to, do yourself– and them– a favor and put in place some accountability.  Set milestones, set-up check lists or create check-ins on specific dates with key deliverables attached to them.  It’s ok to delegate, but if you give responsibility and flexibility with no accountability, do not be surprised if a whole lotta nothing is what is getting done.