The Official Blame-o-Meter
The Official Blame-o-Meter

Blame culture can generate an enormous amount of wasted effort, and hinder great problem solving. Often people aren’t aware that they are part of a culture of blame; it being “just how things are”. One of the objectives of Lean is to challenge this issue.

In order to reach perfection, which we know as a key Principle of Lean, it is necessary to see the things that inevitably go wrong as a learning opportunity, and as an opportunity to introduce a permanent change that would prevent the problem reoccurring.

Using root cause analysis, by such as the 5 Whys (one of the most powerful tools available to the Lean practitioner) we can identify how and why the issue occurred, and the steps needed to ensure it does not happen again. Crucially, root cause analysis is without the unconstructive judgement and lack of respect for people that characterises blame culture.

Why the blame-o-meter? Humour is a particularly effective method of challenging behaviours, and it has the added benefit of allowing people to reflect and respond in a non-threatening manner.

As a result, the University of St Andrews Lean Team started an experiment. They put up a large poster entitled “The Official Blame-o-Meter”, with a different member of staff volunteering to be the blame-ee on a rotational basis. Initially, it was limited to members of the Lean Team, however, other members of University staff quickly joined the Rota of Blame.

Download your copy of the Blame-o-Meter here. You can then either laminate it and use a whiteboard marker to record the day’s blame-ee, or use the old Lean favourite, the sticky note.