Blame won’t fix problem

Pointing a finger and assigning blame to a problem, accomplishes very little and may even hinder advancement. You know, a little common sense goes a long way.

We can accomplish much more, when we focus on fixing the problems that we encounter, rather than spending time on fixing the blame. At least, that is as I have seen it, as I traveled these many years on the highway of life.

It is an exciting trip and a stimulating adventure as we travel on life’s highway. It is true, life experiences are often demanding but greatly satisfying. Life is peaked with unique fond remembrances, but not without unexpected challenging problems along the way.

All in all, this life of ours is a gratifying trip of adventure. Most of us are on that road, traveling singularly, but we really never walk alone. Singularly, we may approach each day and oncoming events distinctly in our own way. But, in reality, we all have something in common; we have many of the same needs, wants, hopes, and desires. And parenthetically, we share many of the same common satisfactions and appreciations.

As we grow and face life, we benefit from each other by sharing the common processes that seem to work best for all of us. You know, life has its common challenges and we all benefit from life’s common just rewards.

It all began for “yours truly” at the time when there was substantial financial stress felt by most in the 1930s. Thinking back, the norms were different at that time.

Buffalo radio was just getting its early footing in our area. And, traveling on snow clogged rural roads was by horse and sled. One-room rural schools were most prominent in the countryside, and “Mom and Pop” stores were common place. And, at that time, Nazism and fascism raised its ugly and immoral head.

Times and events have changed all that. Radio’s two networks … the red and the blue … have evolved into highly sophisticated multi-communication networks heard instantaneously around the world. Traveling patterns of the Model T and/or the horse and sled/wagon area, have changed drastically, with travel at the speed of sound, connecting continents rather than just roadway corners.

The one-room schools are a thing of the past, and on-line teaching practices are in place. Connecting virtual classrooms with highly interactive instruction is the new norm. And, large sprawling box stores are in vogue, incorporating the size of several hundred “Mom and Pop” stores under one large shopping roof. And the ravages of fascist Nazism of the 1930s and ’40s was crushed. Ah yes, things changed.

To be sure, with change, there were problems … many problems involving human dynamics. But also, at the same time, there were great problem solvers with down-to-earth solutions and work ethic values. The mental construct of that era, was to focus on problem-solving and positive results rather than assigning blame when things went wrong. And great advances took place.

Currently, we are faced with monumental financial issues and slow growth economic problems on the national, regional, and local scene. These monumental challenges call for stalwart common sense problem solving and not over-blown problem blaming. Unfortunately, research shows that people tend to take credit when things go right and to blame others when things go wrong.

These instincts are typically most intense when the stakes are high and times are tough, such as we are experiencing at this time of economic stress and slow financial growth. Research also shows that blame erodes morale, slows progress, and undermines working and social relationships. Individuals and teams that blame one another when mistakes happen, get stuck at precisely the time when people most need to pull together to meet great challenges or fix monumental problem. That time is NOW.

In short, “fixing the problem, and not fixing the blame” is a powerful principle. There were earlier generations who understood that principle. And thus, we are the beneficiaries today who say “they knew how to fix the problem and not assign blame.”

Hopefully, there will be future generations who will say the same of our times and our generation.

Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. All of the past columns can be viewed on Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com