The Blame Game
WSJ.com – Moving On: (requires paid subscription)
The topic of “blaming” comes up in today’s Wall St. Journal and this week’s Dilbert strips. Blame has been in the forefront of the Hurricane Katrina “analysis” and follow up. The WSJ article says, in part, that people have evolved biologically to have a strong ability to blame:
“Often, we blame because we lack the skills to problem-solve. ‘Blame is about the past, and about words. Problem-solving focuses on the future and is about actions,’ says Cathryn Bond Doyle, a communications counselor in Medford, N.J. She encourages executives to ask: Where do we want our company to go, and do we have the right people to get there? It’s more productive to evaluate and recalibrate than to mercilessly judge someone’s past actions, or to demonize them, she says.”
In the case of Katrina, particularly with the emergency planning (or lack thereof, or lack of execution) and the lack of levee maintenance/funding/building, that the failures are systemic and complicated.
But do people and the media want? They want blame. They want individual people (the list is long) to say “I take responsibility.” I think it’s tough for people to get their minds around systemic failures. It always has to be someone’s fault.
Is that true in your factory? When something goes wrong, does the root cause problem solving end with, “It was Bob’s fault”? How good are you at fixing things systemically? That’s my challenge to think about for the day.