Fix The Process Instead Of Finger Pointing
It was an unusually hot spring day. My wife and I quickly donned our sunglasses. Not wanting to leave out our son, my wife asked, “Where’s his sunglasses?” As I backed out of our garage I gasped, “I don’t know, do you want me to stop so we can look for it?” Since we were running behind schedule, we decided to keep going.
My wife pressed the issue again. “I gave you his sunglasses so you could safe keep it in the car. You always lose his things.” Having took an interpersonal class in college, I learned never to say always and never. If you do, your statement is instantly wrong as no one in a relationship could realistically never or always do something. I let it pass, but my temperature started to rise and tension was building up to a full blown argument.
In the past, I would immediately try to fix the problem like most men or I would rack my brain on how I screwed up. As I sped onto the freeway onramp, I had a light bulb moment that could potentially diffuse every personal and professional disagreement. I calmly suggested, “This always happens. For the next time, why don’t you put our son’s sunglasses exactly where you want it in the car. That way, if we can’t find it, you can look in the mirror for the reason why.” My wife was stunned into speechlessness. It was a win-win-win situation. I wouldn’t have to fix or figure what went wrong. My wife would know exactly where the sunglasses are and my son would be more comfortable driving in the bright sunlight.
In the work environment, root cause analysis and post mortems are par for the course. But soon after, all parties involved should take a step back from finger pointing and objectively review if the process that led to the problem is broken or flawed. If it is, then rather than push forward to fighting the next fire or moving on to the next project, resources should be devoted to process improvement. It will be better for everyone in the short term and long term. Clients would not lose production time due to repeat incidents. Future projects would not be delayed from resources being stretched thin from unexpected, repeat fires. Incidentally, after we put our son down from a long day of activities, I found those problematic sunglasses. It was in the living room under some toys.