Stop Placing Blame and Understand the Why.

Leaders don’t worry about the who.  Leaders figure out the why and fix it.

When a problem occurs don’t worry about who did what or find fault.  The important thing is to figure out the problem, contain it and then determine why it happened.

Too often people are worried about covering their tracks and start looking to place blame elsewhere.  This is usually a learned behavior.  The person has gotten beaten up by their boss in the past for making a mistake.

When we start to justify our actions or argue that is not our fault it does not help the situation.  After all the arguing we are still right back where we started…dealing with the problem.  The only difference is now people are mad and may not be thinking clearly, the relationship is strained AND we have let the problem live longer than it should have.

One of the principles of lean is to focus on learning.  How does arguing about fault help the learning process?  It doesn’t.  If it adds no value then it must be waste.  Aren’t we trying to eliminate waste, not add it?

This is not something that is easy to change but it is something that we can start to practice right away and without permission, approval, or a capital request.  Next time remember it isn’t important who create the issue but it is important to understand why the issue occurred.

Posted on August 12, 2011, in Culture, Leadership, Learning, Problem Solving and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good post, Matt. The Toyota Way is clearly to be a learning organization. The blame game gets in the way of learning as you discussed. What can become a challenge for leaders is the emotional desire to punish under the banner of accountability as well as the true need for accountability. It’s a challenge for leaders to draw the line between learning situations and disciplinary one’s. It seems that most people gravitate towards blaming people to quickly inhibiting learning and growth.


  2. Excellent post, Matt, and something we all need to be reminded of. It seems that when something goes wrong we are not just satisfied with why but we also need to know who to blame. There could be times when we have an associate who is repeatedly making mistakes who may need to have a counselling session to improve their performance, attitude, etc. but this should be the exception, not the rule.

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