Accountability... Who is Ultimately Responsible? [Podcast ep.27]

Accountability... Who is Ultimately Responsible? [Podcast ep.27]


In this week's episode, we touch on a somewhat sensitive subject – the issue of Accountability, or Who is ultimately responsible when something goes wrong?

Listen to hear some first-hand stories where we highlight:

  • The danger of not being clear in your instructions to the factory.
  • TheDevil is in the Details!”
  • How can you put clear instructions in writing and make them measurable?
  • Knowledge is the key.



Read more about David Hoffmann on Business Insiders with Gary Vaynerchuk and other successful leaders on how to respond when employees royally mess up.

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Podcast Transcript

David  0:00  

Hey guys, welcome to this week's podcast, really happy to bring this one to you because it's a subject that I love talking about. And that's accountability and who's really responsible? And I think the answer is not really what you think. But before we get into that, I just want to say hi to Kevin, my co-host, some of you may know him already. 


Kevin  0:19  

It's good to be here, David, I really enjoy these times, we get to kind of bounce these issues back and forth. 


David  0:25  

Excellent. Me, I loved him too, I find you always managed to extract more information out of me. And that gives value to the listeners. 


Kevin  0:31  

And that's what I like about it. It's just self-serving, so I can build the Chinese product empire that I'm building on the side. So there we go. 


David  0:41  

There you go. So for those of you who haven't heard this podcast before, let's give you some background quickly. What I really do is every week I take real experiences that we go through in China, in our own business and in clients, businesses, and I share those stories with you. And I reflect on them and we just talk about you know


David  1:00  

What actually went wrong or what they could do better? And, you know, the lessons learned. And I think that's just really the best way for people to learn, just share other people's experiences, get the lesson, that advice from them. And that's what the show is all about.


Kevin  1:17  

Each week, I mean, it's really interesting that you know, you kind of touch on one key point and kind of the lessons learned, like you said, and, and some key takeaways, and it's, it's really been good because, you know, over the course of this podcast, you know, we'll certainly build a library of really good content, and it's kind of a broad, comprehensive picture of what it looks like to source product in China. 


David  1:39  

Exactly. Hopefully, I hope the listeners enjoy it and get value out of it, because that's why we do it.


David  1:48  

So yeah, Kevin, this week, we talk about accountability. And, you know, I'll get addressed with this issue in our faces problem a lot. And really, it's who's accountable. You or


David  1:59  

factory and you know, with manufacturing, making a lot of beats that can be a lot of issues, sourcing products in China's emotional roller coaster and the journey that people go on. And, you know, there are lots of bumps in the road. And I hear a lot of people blaming manufacturers, blaming suppliers and all those kinds of things. And, you know, for me, what I try to tell people is you gotta have the mindset of accountability. If you're going to source products from China, I actually do the fasting anyway. It's not just sourcing products in China, but accountability is actually your responsibility. It doesn't matter what goes wrong. Now, I'll give you examples. It doesn't matter how much you pull your hair out if there's an issue it needs to be dealt with. So for example, you know, affect you makes a mistake. Products found inspections, they delayed. Everybody turns around to the factories are not made to deal with all


David  3:00  

Factories a disaster, and I stopped blaming the factory. And what I really want to emphasize, Kevin is that


David  3:09  

ultimately, every single thing is your responsibility and accountability. Because at the end of the day, you're the one that's going to pay the price. If there's a problem, it is a delay. It's always going to be you paying the price, it doesn't matter who made the mistake. And far too often.


David  3:32  

I find that if you go deep enough, and this is really kind of the crux of what I defined as accountability is if you go deep enough, you'll often find that the mistake made is not necessarily the supplier's fault.


David  3:49  

It's very often you simply not giving telling the supplier specifically in detail what you want right?


David  4:00  

There's a big difference between specifying something and not saying something but expecting that result. Does that make sense? 


Kevin  4:08  

Absolutely. I mean, is there a specific example that you can think of like over your many years of experience? Just a really quick anecdote about this is where I thought I was clear. But I turned out and I was really frustrated that the factory owner, but it turns out, it was actually my fault. 


David  4:24  

Yeah, I can give you loads of examples. So let me give you a little example, you go to the manufacturer, you say, Well, here's a couple of, I want this bug in green. And he produces green, right?


David  4:37  

And you send them a picture of it and say, that's the green I want right. And then you get the goods and you look at the green and you go, that's not the green I asked for. Right. He's like, oh, how can you do this? You made a mistake. You start blaming them. Hello. Well, I mean, and this literally happens all the time. And I said, Well, hold on. How did you tell the factory what


David  4:59  

green You want and I said, What? I sent him a picture. Scott. Okay? Do you know that everybody's camera, the flashlights, the angle makes a massive difference even the computer monitor makes a difference on the green. Yeah. And you just can't be vague. And that's why I say you're accountable. Right? If you don't do your homework, and you don't specify in detail exactly what you want, you can't expect a different result. So what you should be doing is saying, look, here's the Pantone color of the greener ones. And you know what I'm expecting? I'm going to check that it's that Pantone color. Everything you do has to be measurable against something.


David  5:38  

If you haven't been specific about a requirement, I bet it's measurable. Ultimately, what's going to happen is it becomes subjective. The green is green. You can't argue with that. Right? And you can't say he should have known or you should have asked me this, or you should have asked me that. It just doesn't work like that. You know, all the problems you gotta have, most of the time. I actually


David  6:00  

Your fault, because you didn't specify didn't make it clear. And I think, you know, for me, when you find yourself in that position, I think it's better just to own it and step up to it and really solve it in a good way, I guess is what I'm trying to say. 


Kevin  6:15  

Is there also a little bit of protection for you by being very clear in your instructions? I mean, like protection, if there, if you come with a dispute between you and the factory or type thing, is it this will not work in your favor, to be really clear, 


David  6:30  

of course, because if you don't specify something very clearly, in terms of requirement, you know, talk about color. Another example is materials, you know, how thick should something be? What texture should it have, if you don't specify it and have a way to measure it, you know, it manufacturer monitor on so it's really in your interest to do it. And by doing that upfront, it does protect you because if that's in your purchase order document and your specifications, the supplier


David  7:00  

In the beginning, and that's what is called front-loading is going to know exactly what you want. And if they can't do it, they're going to probably tell you at that point, you can't go to a supplier and just say, Oh, I'm doing a drop test, you know, if you finished production, I'm doing inspection, I'm going to do a drop test on the goods and they go, right what


David  7:20  

you didn't say you're going to do a drop test, and it must drop from one meter high on six sides and you know, flip around and not be broken kind of thing. So if you didn't specify your content, either you should have known I'm shipping this to Amazon or through mail order and needs to pass a drop test and go Well, yeah, probably they should have known but you should have specified it. You know, and I just say the devils in the detail. If you're going to do anything from a specification to quality check, or even you're going to an expectation that they're going to compensation with this as a high failure rate. Don't assume it, don't discuss it, put it in your documentation and make it measurable.


David  7:59  

I think that's another great example just thinking about it now is people say, Oh, if I've got a higher failure rate, you know, the factories agreed to give me free stock replacement stock. I say, Well, have you defined what a high failure rate is? You might come with a 3% failure rate. And the factory says, Well, we don't think that's high. That's normal. You might come with a 10% of them. I said, That's not high. It's normal. And I think it's actually a good exercise because everything you need expect and want, if you think to yourself, how, how can I put that into words and how can I make it measurable? If you just think like that, how can I make a measurable, that it's clear, the answer is clear. You know, it's easy to make a determination. You're going to Front Load the right information, and you're going to get a much better result because ultimately you're going to pay for it regardless of what happens you're gonna pay for it in time in money and customer satisfaction. or just in stress and aggravation. 


David  9:00  

You're always going to pay for it. So it's your responsibility to do that homework and do that research and ask for the right things you can't assume and expect. 


Kevin  9:10  

I mean, I love the way you just summed that up. I mean, ask yourself these two really key questions, how can I make it clear? And how can I make it measurable? You know, with the whole thing and at the end of the day, like you said, Your, your end customer is not going to go back against the factory in China, you're the provider of the product, to them, you're the face of the product, so you're going to end up owning it, either directly or indirectly anyway, so why not, you know, be accountable as you mentioned, here 


David  9:41  

and knowledge is really key. The more you know and understand about that product category or your industry, the less room for error you have and compliance By the way, Kevin is another great area where it's your responsibility to learn what


David  10:00  

requirements are, I've had people ship products to the US or to Australia. And then they find out later they're going to recall the products are taken off the shelf because doesn't comply and something's going to be little things. Give you an example. And we had remote controls in Australia, that had these little button-sized batteries, you know that round buttons size batteries. And we didn't know that that changed the regulation a couple of months earlier saying that they can easily be swallowed by children. And it's considered a child safety hazard. And you're not allowed to use those batteries anymore, which it just slipped past us, we didn't see that regulation change. And we ended up having to redo all the remote controls and you know, replace them. So we blame now the fact you should have known you know, they're shipping to their country. No, you have to know that you have to figure that stuff out and, and then work with your suppliers and partners, you know, to make those improvements over time. So just don't underestimate the importance of that homework and research. That's what I want to say to everyone listening to this


Kevin  11:00  

And at the end of the day, I mean, if something goes wrong, own it, it's ultimately your fault whether it's your fault or not. 


David  11:08  

Exactly and you have to pay for it one way or another. 


Kevin  11:10  

They're gonna pay for one way the other, Love the way you wrap that up. That's right. 


David  11:14  

Exactly. Now Guys for those of you listening, if you just want to talk to us and get some free advice, you're welcome to call me anytime you go to our website,, you got a free call button there. Let us put in there if you want to put I want to talk to David in the notes. I'll personally take the call. I love talking to clients and I want to hear from you guys. And I'll see how we can help you. And even if we can't help you, we here to talk to you and just give you advice on your journey. So please take advantage of that guys. And I'll see you next week for another episode.




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