Capabilities and Responsibilities

According to TFD, “capabilities” are:

  1. The quality of being capable; ability.
  2. A talent or ability that has potential for development or use: student of great capabilities.
  3. The capacity to be used, treated, or developed for a specific purpose: nuclear capability.
Whereas “responsibilities” are:
  1. The state, quality, or fact of being responsible.
  2. Something for which one is responsible; a duty, obligation, or burden.

The words “developed for a specific purpose” indicate; at least to some extent, a degree of responsibility. All too often whether we are responsible for some function or ability is forgotten in the enthusiasm to build it. Blinded by the simple fact that we have the ability or potential we charge ahead regardless of whether it’s really our responsibility.

It’s not necessarily wrong – if no-one else takes responsibility or you want to compete in some capability then so be it – but in a larger enterprise you could just be in-fighting, duplicating effort or neglecting your true responsibilities. Something start-ups may not suffer from (or end up dying silently from in the cacophony of the market)…

Having the ability to do something does not make it the right thing to do. We talk a lot about capability, we need to talk more about responsibility. After all, what would the world be like if we all chose to exercise our (amateur) nuclear capabilities?