Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Blame Game again

How sad to witness the continuing ramifications of the blame culture with the senior management of Rochdale Council, the town where serious sexual exploitation of vulnerable adolescents took place, denying before the House of Commons Home Office Select Committee culpability for the Council’s failings.

And it’s all too easy for blame to cascade down an organisation to those at the frontline who are often least able to defend themselves.

As Sidney Dekker [1] tells us the ‘few bad apples’ argument is a convenient explanation that is invariably unhelpful in improving safety. The few-bad-apples approach seals lips and discourages safety reporting. It creates a climate of fear in which self-preservation is the only response. That results in organisations which do not learn and which are consequently less safe.

The first response of all those involved in a tragedy such as that which occurred in Rochdale should be to seek an objective understanding of what went wrong. Naming, blaming and shaming makes this much more difficult.

[1] Dekker, S. Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability (Ashgate 2007)