I am sure we have all been there, someone else makes a mistake, either at work, at class, or at home. If that individual comes back after failing an exam, we may think to ourselves, “What a fool, who would think World War I started in the 19th century? Not I”. If that individual messes up at work, we may think to ourselves, “What a simpleton, who would leave a bubble in the carpet? Not I”. If someone swears in the basement of a church, we may think to ourselves, “What a sinner, who could say something like that, most assuredly not I”. This mindset has many problems, least of which is the obvious hypocrisy seeing as I doubt any of us could honestly consider ourselves to be free from mistakes. The chief concern, in the workplace, at any rate, is the inefficiency that this mindset causes. An inefficiency that the blame-free environment of Lean can solve.
Why is a blame-free environment the most efficient way, one may ask? The reason is that it allows the limelight to be placed on the process rather than the individual. For example, in the instance of a student failing an exam, it would be unlikely that the mistake lied in the amount of effort that was put forth on the exam. Rather, the mistake likely lied in the entire process that that individual followed. Likewise if one makes a serious mistake at the workplace, the error likely falls in the process, not in the present decision.
There are many components that go into sustaining a blame-free workplace. One of the most important is respecting people and their abilities. When a mistake is made respect should still stand, rather than accusations of delinquency. In addition, fostering a workplace where excuses are not mandatory is important. In a blame-free environment, one can admit their wrongdoings without fear of accusations and repercussions. Perhaps the most important part of sustaining a blame-free environment is communication with others. Lack of communication can lead to assumptions of blame (I personally start jumping to conclusions when I am not communicated with).
Overall, getting off of our holier-than-thou soapboxes, and using Lean to foster an environment that is free of blame, is essential for any workplace.