Fieldamental # 11: Practice Blameless Problem-Solving

PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM-SOLVING.  Apply your creativity and enthusiasm to developing solutions, rather than pointing fingers or dwelling on problems.  Identify lessons learned and use those lessons to strengthen the team, and to improve ourselves and our processes so we don’t make the same mistake twice. Learn from every experience.

In my observation, when a problem occurs most people’s first response is to defend themselves by pointing out all the reasons why it wasn’t their fault.  Of course, this is a natural response in anticipation of being blamed.  And yet, while we’re busy making explanations and excuses, we’re neither fixing the problem nor learning anything useful.

Eliminating blame from the equation frees us to focus on the important issues: solving the problem and learning.  We want to first apply our energies to solving the problem.  What is the root cause, what are our potential solutions and which will work best?  We need to look at the “system” when trying to resolve a problem, how can the system be modified to prevent issues in the future?  With the problem fixed, we then want to examine what we’ve learned that can help us prevent a repeat of the issue.

But there’s one more critical step to complete the picture.  It’s one thing to learn, it’s another to integrate that learning.  We must also ask ourselves how we will put this new learning into action.  How will our actual behavior be different to reflect this learning?  Problems present us with opportunities to gain wisdom.  But wisdom is only useful to the extent we apply it.

So to recap, the next time a problem arises don’t point the finger. You will only be met with resentment as pointing out an issue can hurt someone’s pride. Instead work on solving the problem and discuss how the issue can be avoided next time. If you are the one who caused the issue, own up to your mistake and make sure you work toward a solution and learn from what you’ve done.