May 29, 2019 | Mark Paradies

Is Blame the Best Root Cause Tool?


Blame … That’s what happens after most incidents and accidents.

In fact, if you measured the use of blame, I bet it would be the most used root cause analysis tool.

Also, the most used corrective action would be either:

  • Discipline (including telling people to be more careful), or
  • Training (used as a form of discipline).

Whenever I think about a blame-oriented culture, it reminds me of this diagram…

Is Blame Effective?

Does blame work? The answer is NO!

Then why do people keep using blame as their primary tool?

  1. It’s easy.
  2. Blame never points up (to senior management).
  3. It is embedded in our culture.
  4. It seems like it works.

Why Does Blame Seem to Work?

The fact that blame seems to work but really doesn’t is because of the way incident statistics work.

An incident or an accident should be an infrequent event.

Thus when an incident happens, odds are that it won’t happen for a long time EVEN if you do nothing. In statistics, this is called “regression to the mean.” In this case, the “mean” is no accident/incident.

So when you blame folks and the incident doesn’t immediately repeat, it seems like your corrective action (discipline or training) worked.

But all you really did was reset the clock to wait for the next incident/accident.

What Can You Do?

That’s an easy question to answer. Apply effective root cause analysis instead of blame.

Not all root cause analysis techniques are effective. Make sure you know what the fundamentals of successful root cause analysis are. See THIS LINK to learn more.

An effective root cause analysis tool will prevent blame and lead you to real, fixable root causes. Causes that management can do something about. Fixes that will keep others from making the same mistakes.

Do You Need Effective Root Cause Analysis Training?

If you need effective root cause analysis training, check out this link for the schedule of upcoming courses:

And check out this link for the course description:

Fixing a Blame Culture

By the way, if you need to fix a blame culture, get this book…


To order, CLICK HERE.

Want a “blame finger” to shift the blame? We gave them out as prizes at our TapRooT® Courses. Unfortunately, they are no longer available at and we can’t find another source. But you can get their book for free! Or read it online HERE. Pretty funny thinking!


Root Cause Analysis, Root Cause Analysis Tips
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