Responsibility vs Response-Ability

In my current understanding, “Responsibility” is a dirty concept - it is a way of passing the blame on to someone. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary specifically invokes blame in its definition.

Asking “who is going to take responsibility for X?” is essentially the same as “who is going to have a target painted on their back, so we know who to shoot at if X doesn’t get done?”
And what makes that particularly attractive is that painting the target on someone else’s back, means that the target is not on our own back!

PLACEHOLDER: Write Sahil’s story with responsibility
PLACEHOLDER: Link in Pratchett’s story of the stoning

I would much rather work with a very different concept: Response Ability
We all have the Ability to Respond; although of course how well we are able to respond can vary - we might not have the skills needed, we might not have the time, etc.
But instead of asking “who is responsible?” so that we can wash our hands off it (and engaging in a power struggle where the other may not want to take blame responsibility) we can simply ask ourselves (“what is my Response Ability in this situation?”), and hopefully encourage others also to seek their own Response Ability without the burden of taking Responsibility.

BTW In my corporate training work, I frequently encountered the “wisdom” that you can delegate responsibility but not accountability, but really it just means two degrees of the same thing with the stronger version assigned a label of “accountability” without any really defining feature that distinguishes the two.

PLACEHOLDER: I first encountered the term Response-Ability in Stephen Covey’s work; I am not sure if how I describe it above is the same as Covey even though it sounds superficially similar

PLACEHOLDER: Link to story of my session at EFRJ 2024