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Accountability: Brainstorming Versus Blamestorming

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Personal accountability is opportunity. It is opportunity to contribute to the organization of which we are a part.It is the opportunity to be counted among the otherpeople inside our organization whom we truly admire and respect. It is our opportunity to ask, “What can Ido to contribute?” and “How can I make a difference?”Many people confuse responsibility and accountability as being one and the same. They are more like two sides of the same coin.

Accountability is the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property. Where accountability is not encouraged you start to have the blame game. This explains why brainstorming sessions become blamestorming.

Brainstorming can be a great way for a team to generate innovative new ideas and potential solutions to problems. But what happens when the team becomes more focused on assigning blame than resolving issues? Blamestorming occurs when a team focuses on assigning fault for projects gone wrong rather than looking for successful results. It can creep in any time a team struggles, and can destroy organizational culture, employee motivation and productivity. Mistakes at work are inevitable and organizations need to focus on learning instead of blame to generate improvements. The key to effective brainstorming, and team and personal productivity, is keeping your focus on ideas and not people. Finding out what caused problems to arise is key to making things better, and focusing your conversations on learning and instead of pointing fingers sets the stage for improved results.

Focusing on the cause of problems and using team ideas to resolve those problems sets a positive culture for transparency and innovation that will drive organizations into the future, and set a positive direction for employees’ ideas and thoughts. This means that employees will spend less time ruminating over unsuccessful projects and more time working to prevent problems from happening again and making themselves accountable. Even better, a transparent and inclusive process establishes a culture of employee commitment and shared accountability, where everyone takes responsibility for team outcomes and taking specific steps so that problems are less likely to occur.

The next time you see a team discussion or brainstorming meeting make the dangerous turn to Blamestorming and individual fault, remember to focus on finding specific actions to prevent the problem instead of assessing blame.

Accountability: The questions to ask:

  1. I am totally responsible for my success at work.
  1. I am very productive, regardless of my work environment.
  1. I am accountable for the results I produce,even if a situation is unfair.
  1. I take training classes to upgrade my skills and competencies on a regular basis, without having to be told.
  1. I am very skilled at the work I do as demonstrated by my work performance.
  1. I have demonstrated strong interpersonal skills where mentoring or coaching is concerned.
  1. I hold my team to their commitments,regardless of how it may affect my personal and professional relationship with them.
  1. I am willing to examine my own accountability issues to achieve team success.




Miller, J. Blamestorming versus Brainstorming: Three Tips for Breaking the Costly Circle of Blame at Work: The Journal for Quality and Participation, 2004. Vol.27:1

Allan, F, Is Personal Accountability in your Job Description, Planning &Development


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