There’s a word that I’ve decided I love:

Blame•storm•ing (blam-storm-ing) noun

1) A group-problem solving technique that involves all the members in the room deciding who screwed up.
2) Passing the buck
3) An attempt to deflect that you made a mistake

I hate these meetings. And I have them often enough to hate them. And they all start the same. ‘They’ did something to make an entire project go wrong. That no matter what steps ‘we’ took to ensure success ‘they’ messed up.

Usually, at this point, I try to remind everyone we work for the same company, and that if one team member made a mistake and nobody caught it, we’re all at fault.

But that never works.

The buck has to stop somewhere. Someone’s butt has to be kicked. Someone has to be at fault. Someone screwed up somewhere.

Although it’s never that simple.

What usually comes out of these sessions is that there were many mistakes along the way. Many signs that something was going wrong or a ‘little sideways.’ Except everyone chose to ignore the signs hoping they’d go away, weren’t real problems, or that someone else would figure it out. The most common mistake is ‘we’ll make up the time later.’ Once you lose a day, you never get it back. Ever.

And here’s the real down side of blamestorming – you create a culture where nobody takes risks because nobody wants to make a mistake.

I always tell people, I’d rather a team of people that have huge hits and huge misses. Everything in the middle is just that – in the middle. When creative teams show me work I often say, ‘it’s OK – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – but it’s not good enough.’ Then we’ll pick it apart to see if there’s a germ of an idea that needs to be grown, massaged, nurtured.

In these meetings we never cast blame for an idea that doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. And we try again.

So the next time you gather in a room for a blamestorming session, turn it around to a ‘what-can-we-do-better-next-time’ session. You’ll find it much more productive.


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