Business Blame Cultures Kill Innovation


Businesses with a blame culture that blame their staff for mistakes are businesses that can’t take initiative.

It’s so easy for a business blame culture to emerge where people are punished, humiliated and made to feel small for the mistakes that they make. In such companies staff end up watching their backs, not innovating and performing. It’s everyone watching their backs and making sure they just do what they’re told to do in case they get in trouble. They are trained, incentivized and manipulated to be robots, and than management get upset when they don’t take initiative.

When people are blamed they settle for the safe option. During recessions this increasingly becomes the case as people are concerned about their jobs. Rarely do people get fired for doing what they are told, so a company doesn’t do anything remarkable but just plays safe.  It’s only when people have the chance to take initiative that the difference between good initiative and bad initiative is learnt. A business blame culture prevents that growth.

Businesses never get the advantage of the thinking, experience and ideas generated by trying things out and failing. But their competitors will do, when this competent staff member finally has enough of being a robot, and moves somewhere where they feel less micro-managed and are happier. Blame is a powerful emotion. I’ve yet to see someone who thrives off it, yet it is something that is within so many organisations and businesses.

Two brains are better than one, and hundreds of brains are better than two. As people have been given the wonder of diverse points of view, businesses need to create space where they can safely explore ideas and improvements in a way that benefits the business. And if something goes wrong, leaders must resist the temptation of the quick knee jerk blame, because although it brings immediate satisfaction, it wont bring improvements.

As people are treated like team,  they become passionate about what they do. Their passion spreads to others. They are free to express and discuss in a positive way how to make things better, and they start to care. These un-tapped geniuses who are so close to the action know what will make things better for the businesses they work in. How to improve service for the customers, make the work flow more efficiently, and let management know which equipment and technology will save time. They know what training will increase the businesses productivity. They know how to make business over perform, if they were allowed the space to embrace this.

Have you experienced blame being used badly within business. What did you learn through that. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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