Spare me the riot blame game

LAST TUESDAY afternoon one of our clients informed us that they were closing their office early, on police advice, and that we should all go home.

After a nervous walk to the tube station, all the while expecting to see an angry mob coming around the corner, I made it onto a Jubilee line train heading for home. Then the inevitable happened. The train was delayed, and at first no reason was given. So of course my imagination went into overdrive.

After a few days of hearing stories from friends and watching in fascinated horror the images on the news, seeing streets that I knew subject to a sea of human destruction, I was expecting the worst…

It turned out to be a signal failure. In fact, thankfully, the threatened violence in London didn’t happen that Tuesday as we now know. It was a different story in other cities, and that night I watched the news as Manchester city centre, a place I know from having worked there recently and visited friends there, suffered from similar violence.

But now it seems that the troubles have abated, hopefully for good, and the clean up seems to have brought out the best in many people, including HMRC and the ACCA.

But what is really frustrating me now is the attitude of many in the aftermath, particularly in the media and in Westminster. All they seem to be interested in is assigning blame, with the poor police force at the top of their list.

Is it not a sad reflection on our current way of life that nothing can happen these days without someone being to blame? It’s all around; in the various TV ads for personal accidents, or in the tag line for the Tonight programme that promises to find out who’s to blame. We do seem to have become a blame culture.

Don’t get me wrong, when someone is negligent or criminal then they should be held to account, no argument there, and I firmly believe that all those taking part in the riots are in this category.

But why is it that whenever anything goes wrong these days the focus is on whose fault it was and how they can be punished? Why can’t we shift the focus? Instead of: ‘Who’s to blame and how can they be punished?’ Why not consider ‘What went wrong and how can we fix it?’

Why do we always require a scalp? Why does the boss always have to resign? Has nobody considered that in some cases said boss might be the ideal person to rectify a situation? Instead of always seeking to blame and punish should we not be seeking to turn adverse situations into opportunities for learning and development?

It’s a case by case thing obviously, but I will say this: next time something goes wrong, someone makes a mistake, or things simply blow up in your face, don’t let your first thoughts be about whose fault it was and who’s going to get the blame.

Instead, focus on what happened, how it can be fixed and what can be done to avoid it in future. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and improve yourself, and those around you. I’m not saying there won’t be occasions where someone really is at fault and deserves sanction, all I’m suggesting is, don’t let it be your first thought.

Think about why it happened, how you can fix it and, even better, how you can gain from it.

Apologies if I’m being a bit preachy (to those who know me this will come as no surprise) but the current coverage in many parts of the media is really getting on my nerves…

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