Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Does no-blame mean no-praise?

A blame culture can destroy the openness required for organisational learning, but what about it's opposite? A culture or heroes and heroines? What impact does that have?

I blogged recently about the importance of a no-blame process such as the Retrospect in developing an open culture.

In this post I suggested that in a Retrospect "we do not really care who was the hero or who was the villain. This is a no-blame process, as well as a no-praise process. We are searching neither for Witches or for Knights; only for the truth"

I recycled this post onto Linked In and got an interesting challenge from Mari-Anne Chimoro of E&Y, who wrote
"I STRONGLY disagree with not calling out the project heroines and heroes though. These are human beings at the end of the day! Who doesn't love to have their effort recognised by peers and leadership, especially when it's done in a creative, fun way - olympics theme, world cup theme, whatever makes sense at the time? Anyone not like getting credit where it's due?"

Recognising people is extremely important, I agree. However I would suggest that a lessons review is not the place to do this. There are better places to praise, and more informed people who can give the praise (like the team's manager, rather than an external facilitator).

Team awards - olympics, badges, cups etc - are great and positive, but not (I still believe) in the context of learning and reflecting.

If you single people out for praise, you are judging. You are saying "these people were heroes" - you are judging them as special - and then all the other people sitting there may be thinking "but we worked very hard as well", and may be feeling judged as "not special". If the judgment comes spontaneously from within the team, then note it, celebrate it, and move on, but do not judge people as a deliberate part of the process.

Once you introduce any form of personal judgment into the process, you set up tensions and divisions which can affect the dynamics of the meeting. I have been in lessons reviews where I am pretty sure that people are hiding facts or distorting truths in order to appear the hero of the story, and this is just as unhelpful as people hiding facts or distorting truths in order not to appear the villain.

 Thats why I am careful neither to praise nor to blame at these meetings.

No comments:

Blog Archive