Here is Wikipedia's definition of accountability.
"Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, enforcement, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central
to discussions related to problems in both the public and private (corporation)
worlds. Accountability is defined as "A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct".
In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences."
The key to accountability is defining what your expectations are. What do you intend to measure - what kind of results are you expecting? It's important this information is documented and agreed to up front.
Another important component to accountability is creating an environment where being accountable is not considered a punishment. If, as a result of being accountable, your associates feel a real threat to their success or their employment, it will be very hard for an organization to completely embrace accountability and learn from their mistakes.
Accountability is a critical component of a learning organization. If people don’t feel completely free to make a mistake in their job (and learn from that mistake) your people will do whatever it takes to avoid accountability.
One of the biggest challenges we have at my place of work is that we are moving so fast we don't have time to come full circle and conclude the project with an assessment of it's overall success based on the goals. This too is critical to a learning organization; learning and adjusting based on those learnings. Right now, dashboards are a buzzword -- everyone wants a dashboard and everyone's developing dashboards to pull information together. With all these different teams pulling dashboards and reports together, you can guarantee the actual resulting information will be different and you're then faced with the decision of which report to believe. Governance is essential - who owns the information; who is responsible for pulling the reports together; how is that information used to make the organization smarter; how is it disseminated...