Blame, it’s a bad thing—and it takes on many forms. Here’s a humorous one:
An executive at a medical products distribution organization told me, “So, yeah, we’ve got some problems, like our field salespeople calling our headquarters the ‘sales prevention club’!”
Hey, a new acronym—the SPC!
If we didn’t have the home office getting in our way, we could make more sales!
Blame can also take on the dangerous form of culprit-seeking questions like:
“Who dropped the ball?”
“Who made the mistake?”
“Who made that stupid decision?”
“Who hired these people?!?”
The Costs of Blame:
- Destroys morale
- Reduces creativity
- Lowers productivity
- Increases fear
- Drives wedges between colleagues
- Breaks down teams
And, The Big One:
Hind-sighting = blame. And blame solves no problems.
When we did our “gentle rewrite” of the QBQ! book, we added some FAQs. Here’s one and how we answered it. I think this Q&A sums it all up:
Q: If we can’t use the word “Who,” then how can we have a discussion of what went wrong?
A: There should be conversation around problems and how they occurred, but “whodunit” questions are almost never about solving problems. They’re about finding a culprit. “Who made the mistake?” implies that the entire story behind the problem is what one person did in that moment, but that’s almost never the full story. Yes, they did it, but what motivated them to do it? What was the situation at the time? What had they been told? How were they trained? Were they being managed well? When problems are explored in a healthy fashion, good questions are asked. We call them QBQs:
“How can I help improve our processes?” or “What can I do to discover what contributed to this?” are far better questions than, “Who did it?!”
Blame. Easy to engage in, commonplace, costly—and there’s no defending it.
The solution is practicing PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.
It’s just as simple as that!
For Comment and Discussion:
In your opinion, what others costs of blame are there? Is there blame going on in your organization? What’s it costing … you?
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