Whenever errors occur, some people have a natural tendency as their first reaction to look for someone to blame. Specially in group activities. As if having someone to blame would somehow make the error less harmful. This is a big waste of time and energy. Let me explain why.
Waste of time
An error occurred. Errors happen. This is a fact of life. No matter what you are doing, designing software, deploying code in production, operating on a patient, cooking dinner, building a house, playing guitar, playing soccer, etc. chances are that erros will occur.
When you spend time trying to find who was responsible for the error, you’ll delay your most important tasks regarding the error:
- understanding what happened
- figuring out how to fix it
- find ways to prevent it to happen again
Waste of energy
When you spend time trying to find who was responsible for the error, people may naturally try to hide because they are afraid of the consequences. Will I be fired? Will I be excluded from the group? Will I be punished? Will people mock me?
When people try to hide who was responsible, you’ll again delay your most important tasks regarding the error listed above because it will be more difficult to understand what happened. People will not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the error and the circumstances surrounding the error.
Deal with the responsible in private
If in the process of understanding what happened you find out that someone was responsible for the error, deal with him in private. Most probably he caused the error without intention to do any harm. So on one side you need to help him improve so he doesn’t do this kind of errors in the future. On the other side you have the responsibility to create an environment where it’s safe to tell about the errors so these errors are detected more quickly.
- When an error occur, don’t waste your time on who’s to blame.
- Focus your energy on understanding what happened.
- Figure out how to fix it.
- Find ways to prevent the error from happening again.
- If you find out someone was responsible, deal with him in private, and help him improve.