Black Book of Thoughts

Tell the story as if I am responsible

This is a story where a line manager successfully resolved a problem at work involving two individuals who couldn't work together.

The manager began by taking responsibility for the problem, acknowledging that she had overlooked it for too long although she was aware of the problem. Then, she asked both parties to share their perspectives as if they were responsible for the issue. (Note: This approach is not be suitable for cases like sexual harassment!)

Each person was then encouraged to reflect on their own contributions to the problem, rather than blaming the other. When one pointed at the other as a source of the problem the task was renewed. So, instead of "the data from the other person was bad" the task was to point out the own failure: "I didn't check the data before I forwarded". The goal was for everyone to take ownership of their part in the situation. To see how each was contributing to the situation. Situation, going on for months was fixed within days.

The message is clear: think about what you can do to change the situation. Don't blame others and take responsibility.

I found this little app, it puts a few words in the menu bar of my Mac. It now says (even in red): "Tell the story as if I am responsible".

This story comes from the interesting "Upstream" book by Dan Heath