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Viewpoint: It’s Time to Reintroduce Accountability to Pro AV

Charmaine Torruella
(Image credit: Future)

With the onset of a New World—a result of a pandemic, global supply chain disruptions, and an emergence of a new war—AV has to come through strongly to continue its development in integration. There is a simple ingredient, when added, that can help Pro AV to reach its peak in the technology sector: accountability.

Accountability in most business circles is one of the top seven business traits in leadership. Before we add this spice to the pot, let’s understand it. Accountability can be defined as is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility and be transparent, allowing others to observe and perform.

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To apply it to Pro AV, accountability is the accounting for the relevance and progression by an institution and/or individuals to deliver. In other words, it means the responsibility to perform ahead of the current world status is upon us.

Though the term is used often in business language, accountability is not exercised nearly enough. Although easy and cool to say, it’s not an easy posture to maintain. This is an issue with all industries, not just Pro AV.

Initial Evaluation

So, what does accountability in AV mean? How does one start the accountability tour? Well, it begins with a solid evaluation of where you stand in your business and the Pro AV industry. Ask questions like:

• Are we in tune with the market’s direction?

• Do we recognize the technologies that are now coming into play?

• Are our operational strategies and processes clear, well-defined, and achievable?

• How do we mitigate labor and supply shortages?

• How do we boost employee happiness and appreciate their value?

After examination, there has to be a willingness to do the research and take the steps. Organizations can become comfortable with a certain level of achievement and never venture to surpass goals, just meet them. In today’s environment, this plateau can present struggles and unfixable issues.

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To move the needle is to embrace discomfort—taking action in anticipation of changes. In 2021, I went to an event and met a security integrator looking to determine how to grow more in the commercial market. The manager and I discussed the industries that their company worked with the most, and it turned out education was one of them. Soon the idea light bulb beamed brightly, and they looked into doing more AV work with higher ed in their region by providing different types of integration.

Although business was good, they sought out the discomfort of an uncomfortable notion and became proactive. Their familiarity with the education clients’ processes and procedures presented a value proposition that they could hone and cultivate. They supplemented new AV integration solutions with their security integration solutions, which eliminated the client’s pain of onboarding an additional vendor. Instead, they could work with the vendor they already knew and trusted.

Be Prepared and Follow Through

The previously mentioned vendor determined the type of spaces they could implement with additional technical training and product knowledge. They had to acquire the aptitude to integrate AV classrooms and conferencing spaces.

To work well, accountability in Pro AV has to be more than a singular action: It has to be consistently practiced through a series of habits in order to progress.

So, what came next? Preparation. Not all organizations prepare. New technology comes and new trends arise, and the response is more of “fumbling to success” instead of preparing for it.

The security integrator began the work with their operations department in further training resources, and enlisted their HR department in obtaining new resources with different skillsets to supplement their team’s body of knowledge. Preparation in the face of the “new economic normal” needs to be revamped and reinstituted—not just in processes and procedures, but most importantly in overall mindset. Mindset preparation of individual contributors, managers, teams, partners, and clients is critical to resetting expectations and guiding all toward any new direction.

With preparation in place, the next steps include engaging with clients and communicating your roadmap, so you can get buy-in and feedback on the new direction. Whatever decisions and strategies are made, engagement is necessary internally and externally to demonstrate your commitment to change.

Follow through is not a practice that gets commonly indoctrinated into professional practice, but now more than ever it is necessary. Unlike follow up, which is just the beginning, follow through is the measure of continuing a task to its absolute completeness. If you follow up on an item, it is not done until you incorporate the follow through. Engagement and follow through go hand in hand; engagement is the commitment and follow through is the confirmed signoff. For true accountability, you cannot have one without the other.

To work well, accountability in Pro AV has to be more than a singular action: It has to be consistently practiced through a series of habits in order to progress. Whether your company’s initiative is to expand solution portfolios with emerging technologies, implement hybrid work environments, achieve DEI goals, and/or create new career paths for employees, accountability has to be applied on an individual, departmental, and company-wide level. When accountability is not practiced, it leads to the perception that there is no desire to do good business, just business.

Charmaine Torruella has over 20 years in the collaboration and technology industries providing organizations with professional services and solutions to achieve impactful communications and business performance. She has held the title of chairperson of the AVIXA Diversity Council since 2018 where she develops channels for diverse AV workers by creating awareness, education, and a network of allies.