The Blame Game

Headlines are filled with accusations casting blame for misfortune. Just this week we read:

– US companies blame Europe for financial downturn…

– Olympic hoteliers blame sponsors for low occupancy…

– Apple blames rumor mill for…

– Corn is blamed for high grocery prices…

These blame stories were triggered by poor business results. It is common for people to look for somewhere to point a finger when something goes wrong. An unfortunate and unintended consequence of leaders who place blame and fail to tolerate mistakes is that they create cultures that stifle experimentation, innovation, risk-taking and initiative. Of course, people must be held accountable for what they do in business; but they need to be held accountable for the right things — and for things under their control. And always, leaders need to focus on what was learned, so that mistakes are seldom repeated and employees across the organization become wiser.

Ben Dattner with Darren Dahl’s book, The Blame Game: How the Hidden Rules of Credit and Blame Determine Our Success or Failure , explores the costs of blame and credit in the workplace. Through case studies and practical examples, the authors explain what happens when people take credit they don’t deserve or when they blame others for their mishaps. Mishandling of credit and blame leads to disengagement, silence, fewer new ideas and immobilization that can devastate the workplace. This book provides excellent ideas and strategies to help leaders be more intentional about their language, increase learning, encourage action and navigate change more wisely.


– “Whether an organization has a culture of blame or not can be a key determinant of performance at all levels.”

– “The stance a leader takes with respect to blame is…a key determinant in whether a team, department or whole organization will have a culture of learning from mistakes.”

– “Organizations greatly benefit by striving to learn from their mistakes and missteps, rather than succumbing to the temptation to blame individuals or groups.”

The Innolect Team


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