A long time ago I had a very able guy working for me in our marketing team. He was the only guy I had interviewed who took notes during the interview, which is what I used to do. It makes the interviewer feel like what you’re saying is worth preserving. It was important to the person who wanted to work for you, important enough for them to want to refer back to.

He used to talk about the perils of being saddled with a role or project that you were accountable for, but not responsible for.

Put simply, when you’re accountable but not responsible, you’re not in charge but you get the flak when something goes wrong. It’s all downside and no upside. You don’t have control. When the project goes poorly you’re the one that gets blamed. When it goes well, the person responsible takes the plaudits.

This is a tough situation, and it usually happens when you’re in an organisation that tends to be more closed than open, more political than altruistic. The corporate culture is not quite right.

My advice in this situation is to draw the attention to your superior of the various outcome probabilities, including failure, beforehand, and why you’re not in a position to influence it otherwise. Then your boss has the information and they have to make a decision. And the decision they make will tell you a lot about your future there.

The guy I mentioned went on to do great things. Not surprising, really.

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