“Blame-storming” … a sign you work for a market “loser” not a “leader”


Direct TV has launched a number of very creative TV ads that resonate with me. Over the weekend I saw a new commercial that caught my attention. The scene takes place around a board room table with what is perceived as a senior leadership team trying to figure out how to solve a business problem. Whoever led the creative for the development of this advertisement has spent time, as I have, serving in dysfunctional teams.

For example, one of their more recent TV ads depicts a senior management meeting and the CEO says “what should we do?” And one team member quickly says “we should have a Blame-storming session…I blame Eileen …” blame

Market “Losers” choose to blame team members verse understanding the problem. Years ago I had a wise business coach and mentor named Bill Clarke who would say “focus on the problem not the person Mark,.. Very rarely do people choose not to perform well (particularly if poor performance adversely affects their income),… people are not broken, processes are…” Market losers and losing teams look quickly for a fall guy, someone to blame so that whatever was just discovered does not attach to them. If Market Losers spent as much time focusing on the real “why” behind the problems they discovered, verse “piling on team members when they have made a mistake”, they would become market leaders and grow profitably.

What makes this commercial connect is I have been in the meetings in which one team member finds a problem in another team members area, and as opposed to constructively trying to help, they “throw the other team member under the bus.” (trust me , I have plenty of tread marks on my back, and will probably have many more in the future)In truly dysfunctional teams other managers pile on. After all if we are playing the blame-storm game, if the focus is on one of my peers then the odds are people will not find nor focus on my shortcomings. (we all have them)

Market” Leaders” are excited when they find problems as they view them as an opportunity to improve. Every uncovered problem is an opportunity to better serve your market through creating a process that overcomes the issue(s) you have discovered. Market leaders have developed a culture deeply rooted in trust, common values, and aligned around a cross functional goal.

Market “Leaders” seek out roadblocks to success and they rally team members to build processes that help their other team members win in the future. Market leading teams have real discussions about topics that matter as they know they are safe to share mistakes and ask for help. Market losers quickly learn to hide mistakes and blame others.

The blame –storm game adds no value to the organization. Those who focus on someone to blame take the easy way out. It takes little skill to find problems in business today. Market losers want to pile on and lead a lynch mob do so in fear that their shortcomings will be discovered. They focus the beam of attention on others in hopes of building their credibility and importance to the organization by pushing others down. Leaders know we gain power by helping team members identify broken processes and creating new procedures that lifts struggling team members up.


What kind of organization do you serve? Market leader or market loser?


Have you been the victim of “blame-storming”? Did it help?


How do you deal with coworkers who try to gain power by pushing others down?


Does your culture condone “we eat our young” behavior? How’s that working for you?


11 thoughts on ““Blame-storming” … a sign you work for a market “loser” not a “leader”

  1. Mark, thanks for the great post. I suspect that many of us have witnessed the phenomena that you so aptly label as “Blame-Storm.”

    I recall one particularly odius individual that practiced this as part of his strategy to coalesce power. If everyone else was wrong and screwed up and he was the wise one able to highlight all of the wrongs, he believed that he would come out on top. He did for awhile. Eventually, the Karma train rolled through, but not before he left a great deal of damage in his wake.


    • markallenroberts says:

      In one company I served they called a senior leadership meeting after a board meeting that went bad, to vote on who the “fall guy ” would be. The young CEO said ” we need to show the board we took corrective action…” Yikes!
      Every fiber in me was disturbed by this, and eventually I stopped helping this team.
      Thanks Art,

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