the function of blame (retitled) respond LO7338

Mulligan, Margie (
Thu, 09 May 1996 11:13:21 -0700

From: Margie Mulligan <>

To Julie Beedon: Will you give a complete reference for the "Seeing
Systems" book by Oshry? I'm interested.

My support to Julie for clarifying something that I have been saddened by
in many of the message on this network...the tendency to BLAME
someone...managers, CEOs, teams...etc. It's an easy "bad habit" to pick
up...and IMHO one that seems to be politically correct among reformers.
As a life-long reformer, I've worked very hard to remove the habit from my
own actions at work. It was tough going!!!

My assumption, based on my own experience, is clearly that this practice
of blaming has a negative impact on the level of positive energy available
for generating changes we want (ala Robert Fritz, _The Path of Least
Resistance_. Does that ring true for others on the list?

In order to help our manufacturing organization begin to ween itself from
the "addiction" to blaming, the head of manufacturing and I have evolved a
way to talk about it in a developmental way:

1. In early phases of the continuous improvement process, we said "don't
blame the person, blame the process"

2. As we started to move to systems of processes and ran into issues to
do with the customer value stream, we said, "don't blame the process,
blame the system"

3. Recently, as we've gotten more explicitly into learning organization
efforts, understanding our mental models and assumptions, we've begun
saying, "don't blame the system...eliminate blame"

How have other people found success eliminating BLAME? That's our
developmental "edge" now, and I'd love to get some ideas of how people
have dealt with the issue.

**********************exerpt from Julie Beedon's message*****************
I cannot recall any place where Deming said that executives and managers
were to 'blame'. I can think of many instances where he talked of their
roles and responsibilities in bringing about transformation. My sense of
one of the core aspects of his message was no fear - no blame (drive out
Today I have been reading a stimulating book 'Seeing Systems' by ? Oshry.
and the whole top, middle, bottom relationships system is wonderfully
articulated in there. The key to 'breaking out of the dance' as he would
say seems to be linked to our ability to separate blame and responsibility

-- (Mulligan, Margie)

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