Why a blameless culture does not mean a responsibility free culture
Posted on 09/07/2013 Category: General Martins Rubber blog
Historically, the role of quality has been perceived as the ‘witch hunter’; when something goes wrong it’s the responsibility of the quality team to hunt down the culprit(s) and make an example of them to the rest of the company…. but nowadays in a blameless culture no-one expects the Quality Inquisition!
To address this negative image the philosophy has been to say that a quality investigation is to look for root cause of process failure, finding out what went wrong rather than who did it wrong… it is not the individual that failed but the process they were following. Whilst being a positive step, this should not be used as an excuse for individuals to take the ‘slopey shoulder, “its nothing to do with me”‘ approach. It is too easy to go too far the other way and allow people to become removed from the process and therefore removed from ensuring they have followed it correctly. A well-communicated, process-oriented approach should encourage people to take responsibility for the processes they follow, question and identify weaknesses and aim to improve them. The key is to get the people following the process to assist in its creation and development; too often they are removed and are told what they have to do rather than being able to help decide how they need to do it. Ownership breeds responsibility and managed well does so without the need for blame when a process does not work as intended. The role of quality in this environment should be as a means to confirm processes are robust and are continually improving to meet the needs of the individuals following them. Investigations should be co-operative and inclusive to ensure all aspects are reviewed. It is better to make a mistake and learn from it than to never realise you made a mistake at all.
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