Posted by: Knightbird | August 16, 2010

Pointing Fingers

“Modern civilization is teetering on the brink of an epidemic of emotional idiocy. Cynicism, irritability, anger, depression, and hostility are on the rise.” Anna Maravelas

I don’t read “O,” The Oprah Magazine, but I have a staff person that does. This quote is on the first page of an article in their September 2006 edition. I feel like the quote may have even more relevance today than it did then. Ms. Maravelas talks about the “Stinky Twins” of blaming others and blaming our selves. Finger pointing is, she says, rampant in the workplace. In my view, it is also rampant in the political arena, especially as we head into election season.

Chugachmiut has been fighting this urge since 2003. It is not always easy. When we started talking about No Blame, No Shame in 2004, I didn’t have the benefit of having read this article, but now that I have, it seems particularly applicable to our system. When we blame others, we don’t address the root cause for the problem that causes us to do the blaming. My purpose in initiating No Blame, No Shame was an attempt to implement part of Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, one point of which was to build an organization where employees could find “joy” in the work they do. You certainly can’t find joy is you are destroying relations by blaming a co-worker or yourself for problems that happen in the workplace.

This doesn’t mean that employee’s cannot be accountable for their work. It just means that they become responsible for the work they do, which is part of a process or processes, and that their accountability requires participation in team approaches to fixing defects. It also means that defects are fixed through teamwork.

Like Ms. Maravelas encounters good people in her workplaces, I know I have good people in my workplace. My goal is to treat them right. They have as much a stake in our workplace as I do because we want to create a supportive community where we are continually learning and improving our services to the customers we serve.  Pointing Fingers is not a way to make that happen.


  1. Thanks, as always, for sharing what Chugachmiut is working on here.

    I think you are spot on that you can have accountability without blame.

    Dr. Bob Wachter wrote a very relevant piece on this idea, which I blogged about and linked to:

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