2020-04-27 Issue 144 – Fundamental Behavior 17 – Practice blameless problem-solving
How many of you have ever heard the expression, “Feeling like I have been thrown under the bus?” For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it means that someone has given you full credit for something that has gone wrong either at work, home or outside the organizations. I’d like to ask all of those people who have experienced this — How did it make you feel?
More importantly, have you ever “thrown anyone under the bus?” How did that make you feel? How do you think the friend or coworker felt who was on the receiving end of you blaming them? I’d bet that they felt exactly like you did when it happened to you. Feelings of hurt, anger, embarrassment, damaged self-esteem, etc. are all normal feelings during times like this.
When we spend more time trying to blame others for mistakes or issues that come up at work than we do trying to focus on the problem, we wind up being counterproductive in both our relationships with others as well as solving the root cause of the problem!
One of the best examples for me of a group that exemplified blameless problem solving happened years ago onboard the flight of Apollo 13. When the pilot, Jack Swagert, reported, “Houston, we have a problem,” all hands were on deck to bring this crew home safely. There were multiple “mistakes” made that led up to the problem when he stirred the oxygen tanks. It would have been easy to place the blame on a last minute repair of the tank versus replacing it, along with other incidents that happened before the flight. However, when the problem of a space craft potentially coming apart and all known methods of returning to earth were gone, only survival mattered at that point!
Rather than spending time trying to place blame, the men onboard and the people on the ground focused on the one goal of returning the crew home safely! To me, this was one of our country’s finest moments!
Problems will occur in our personal as well as our work lives every day. Even though our problems may not have the same potential outcomes as the Apollo 13 crew, we need to remember that when we focus on fixing the problem, we all have better results!
In summary, the next time a problem arises, don’t point the finger. You will only be met with resentment and wind up hurting someone’s pride. Instead, we should work on solving the problem and how we could prevent this from happening in the future. If you are the one who caused the issue, take ownership for the mistake, make sure you work towards a solution and most importantly, learn from the mistake.
Director, Organizational Development and Compliance
YKK AP America Inc.