Note: Don’t miss the Application Exercise at the end of this QuickNote!

I suppose we all have a phrase or two that we can’t stand hearing. Here’s one for me:

There’s plenty of blame to go around!

Often spoken by someone in the media, it’s a phrase that has become prevalent. Possibly because blame has become popular.

• Parents blame the schools, churches, Hollywood for how their kids turn out.
• Spouses blame each other (sometimes with their attorneys present).
• Employers blame the employees.
• Workers blame management.
• Voters blame the politicians they elected.
• Politicians blame … their predecessors.
• Coaches and players blame the officials.
• Manufacturing blames R&D who blames HR who blames Marketing who blames Sales who blames … the customer!


And everyone blames the economy. Why not, it’s so easy!


In our newly reproduced DVD-based QBQ! training program, I list some costs of blame in a work context. Blame:

• Indicts people
• Destroys morale
• Reduces creativity
• Lowers productivity
• Increases fear
• Drives wedges between colleagues
• Breaks down teams

Blame also hurts us at home, not to mention in our communities, churches, and schools. You see, at the very least, when pointing fingers, we’re not using our time, energy and creativity to solve a problem. AND ALL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE PROBLEMS! And since schools, families, nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses are all “organizations,” there are problems everywhere! Remember this:

Nothing gets fixed when we are fixated on who’s at fault.

The truth is, outstanding organizations do not “seek culprits.” When there is a Culture of Culprit Catching, we actually create more problems than existed in the first place. If you don’t believe me, see costs of blame listed above.

As we say in QBQ!, leaders at all levels (that’s you and me!) blame nobody—not even themselves.

That last statement is not a way of escaping blame. Since we all make errors, it simply means that if it’s me that committed one, I don’t have to beat myself up over it. The right questions to ask are, “What can I learn from this experience?” and “How can I now work to solve the problem?”

Blame-busting questions like these—we call them QBQ’S put me on the path of Personal Accountability and that path is always the place to walk. And no matter who caused a problem, QBQ’s always bust the blame.

Our society may constantly send the message that “there’s plenty of blame to go around,” but we can resist the temptation to do what’s popular, trendy—and incredibly immature. (Yes, finger-pointing is an emotionally immature behavior.) Instead, each of us can rise above the urge to blame; each of us can be a Blame Buster. And when that happens, our organizations can be Outstanding!

Application Questions:

Forward this QuickNote to your colleagues and begin a dialogue using these questions—

1. How often do we search for culprits when something goes wrong?

2. In what way does blame impact the morale within our organization? What are the consequences?

3. How will we benefit when finger-pointing is eliminated?

4. What can I do today to bust the blame?