Quote of the Week: On Fault & Responsibility

By: Jan Bolick
August 15, 2011

As a kid, I said  “It’s not my fault” to my parents from time to time.  And each time it definitely WAS my sister’s fault.    Until she went off to school .  And then it was still worth it to try and blame her.

Then I went off to school and  after that got into the publishing business where lots of mistakes were made.   Interestingly, no one ever blamed my sister.  Nor their own.  But there was lots of blame and it was irksome to hear:

When I pay for a product or service and it’s not  right, the first and most important issue is NOT whose fault it is.  It’s getting whatever it is I need, want and/or paid for.

All of the above helped me realize an important distinction when dealing with mistakes:

"It may not be your fault, but it IS your responsibility."  Jan Bolick

This distinction has helped me, my colleagues and many clients get closer to masterful mistake management by dropping the blame game and  focusing  our energy on the real issue…providing whatever it is the customer was supposed to get.

Once we resolve the situation for our customer, we can get even closer to masterful mistake management by  looking at the cause of the issue, which may very well involve delving into whatever happened at the printer or the shipper or in production. Not to establish blame. But to determine a way to prevent recurence.

If people aren’t used to this approach, it takes a while to break down barriers to success.  But once the barriers are down.  Once people see and feel the freedom and excitement of collaboration and creativity – it’s a huge boost to morale, productivity and overall performance.

Important Note #1 : Giving lip service to taking responsibility is not enough.  Action must follow.  Action to correct plus action to prevent.  Otherwise – it’s just lip service.

Important Note #2: This approach may not apply to ALL situations.   And it is not intended to take away the responsibility of others involved, including the customer. The common sense to test hot coffee before taking a swig comes to mind. When used appropriately – it contributes beautifully to masterful mistake management.

We invite you to  join our celebration of Mistake Management Month during which we explore the benefits and how-to’s of masterful mistake management.


1.  Post, print, share our Quote of the Week .  See instructions below.

2.  Read more about Mistake Management Month.

3.  Share stories with us about your own experience with Mistake Management.  Use Comments section below.

4.  Read articles and stories below…choose one or two to share as discussion starters with your staff?

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a Monday morning BOOST for you and your team – the Leadership Quote of the Week delivered to your email box each Monday morning.

Sign up here for the Leadership Quote of the Week – A Bite Sized Bit to Boost Morale, Productivity and Performance.

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Use the above quote as background or wallpaper for your computer with just three clicks.

1. Click on the image above.

2. Right click on the image that appears.

3. On the pull down menu that appears, click on “set as background”. Voila!

There’s still plenty of room on the left side of the screen for all your shortcut icons.

Note: If you don’t like your new wallpaper, don’t want to replace it with a quote from the Business Class Quote Library and don’t know how to get rid of it…… Go to your control panel. Select “Display”. Select “Desktop”. And then choose from the designs offered.”

Or print the PDF version below. Just click on the printer icon in lower right corner of the image.

Problems? Try this link.

Barnes & Noble


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