The Joy Of Blame
Recent blog post by Phil La Duke – see it here
What is it about blaming that feels so good? Why do we enjoy it so much? What’s that? YOU don’t enjoy blaming people; I’m sorry, I’m skeptical. I have reason to be. As a certified Just Culture practitioner who studied under David Marx (author of the book Whack A Mole and self-proclaimed “father of Just Culture”), a seasoned consultant in organizational change initiatives aimed at safety, and an obnoxious blogger who is seemingly pen pals with every kook and safety whack job, I see a lot of people who can’t wait to blame; from “stupidity” to “the culture” if its one thing the safety industry isn’t short on, its blame.
Blame satisfies a visceral and deeply ingrained need in people; it makes us feel as if some sort of justice has been meted out. When we find the person or persons responsible for something we can shout “aha! We’ve caught you”.
Just Culture And Blame
Just Culture, more a corporate governance system than a safety methodology, doesn’t believe in blame. Instead, Just Culture teaches that there are three basic kinds of human behavior: human error, at risk behavior, and recklessness. Human error are those good old fashioned “honest mistakes” that everyone makes at one point or another (in fact, a researcher I once saw speak at a medical conference, said that the average person makes five mistakes an hour, and if anyone out there can find the source of this research (my notes were literally destroyed in a flood) and send it to me you will have my heartfelt appreciation)). A mistake, in Just Culture terms, is any undesired unplanned outcome. Some believe that mistakes are our subconscious minds way of testing the safety of rapid adaptation—that our brains deliberately, albeit subconsciously, cause us to err as a sort of experiment to see how safe it is to adapt. At any rate, if the mistake isn’t deliberate it is unjust to punish those who make them. (That’s not to say that one isn’t necessarily accountable, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) Just Culture teaches that we should console the mistake maker instead of scolding, or worse yet subjecting them to a corporate disciplinary action. Consoling someone for making mistakes sounds a bit warm and fuzzy, and it seldom satisfies people’s thirst for blood and blame. Someone has to pay for the wrong that has been committed………………..