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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blame is way overrated

As soon as a mistake is made, what do many of us do? We rush to lay blame at the feet of the offender.

What does that do for us? It makes us feel better because there's no heat on us so that must elevate our position.

What does that do for the organization? It certainly DOES NOT move the organization forward.

In fact, the ART of Blame (and some of us do excel at that art) is, unless you're using it to help you get rid of an employee, just a waste of time...time that you're not using to fix problems and move the team or organization forward.

Peter Senge, in his book, "The Fifth Discipline", talks about how blame is so common and that we all look for opportunities to assign it. Then it's not our's someone else's. Check out this link reviewing " The Fifth Discipline" (it's hands-down the best learning book I've ever read).

Anyway, when something goes wrong or someone makes a mistake, we need to step back and think before pointing fingers. If we look at our world from a systematic approach and how we fit into our team or organization or world, rather than place blame, we need to look at how we could have positively affected the outcome. Just like we like to figure out our part in an event when it goes well, we need to ask ourselves what part we had to play or what part we could have played in an event that went way wrong. This way we're not making someone the problem; instead we're part of the solution.

Would we all like to be part of the solution where everyone is successful? Isn't that a much better way to work and live than trying to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down?

So let me ask you, does your organzation or team excel at placing blame? Do you ask yourself what you could have done to help another succeed instead of jumping on the "blame bandwagon"? How can organizations move past blame and move ahead toward shared success?


  1. Not placing blame, looking at one's role in the success or failure of a project is certainly ideal and very rational. However, do we usually act rationally, even after thinking through an action? Many people need to be able to figure out where to place the blame so they can make sense of the failure. Some automatically blame themselves ("I must have done something wrong") while others automatically place the blame on people the don't like anyway ("Charles must have had something to do with this").

  2. I agree. Not placing blame is a rational approach, not an emotional one. It reflects maturity to which we should all strive.


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