Accountability Box

Sometimes people need a nudge, let them nudge themselves!
People don’t resist change. They don’t resist being changed either, as the quote goes. As change practitioners, there’s a reason why we might not see change happening and we shouldn’t always assume it’s change resistance.

Sometimes people are motivated to participate in a change, but they aren’t able to for whatever reason. That could mean they don’t understand why the change is important to the organization, or what it means to them, or it might simply be too hard to do. The latter could mean a few things:

  1. the organizational boundaries are too difficult to cross, or there might simply be too many boundaries to cross. An example would be trying to define a wide-reaching enterprise process that affects 12 departments.
  2. the person might not have the skills to participate in the change.
  3. the person might have 17 other priorities that need attention.

During any change intervention, the people who want to, and are able to, take action will, but sometimes they need a nudge. Instead of holding people accountable for their commitments, why not have them, or their peers hold them accountable?


The Accountability Box is an Experiment you can try that shows you’re there to help as a change agent. It’s pretty simple to use.

After any workshop, training, or session about the change, ask everyone to fill out a simple sheet of paper outlining:

  • What they’re committing to do
  • When they plan to do it
  • Who they are

Now there are three Options:

  • give it to a peer who will hold you accountable for doing that action.
  • put it into the Accountability Box and have one of the facilitators, or change team members send you your sheet on the date you wrote down. (inter-office mail, scan and email it, put it in an envelope and drop it off on their desk etc)
  • put all the sheets into the Accountability Box and randomly distribute them.

Here’s the tricky part, if you’re a member of the change team, or management, do not measure the completion of these activities! The point is to show that, as a whole organization, we’re committed to this change and we want to help it spread virally.

As always, start with yourself. At the end of the workshop, session, or training, create one for yourself and announce to the group that you want someone to remind you about your action on the date you wrote down.


Stories and Examples


Download this template and start using the Accountability Box! Have a story to tell about using it, or a variation on it? Contact us to tell your story.
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