The Detroit museum bearing the name of the city’s best
known business person is one of the most interesting in the
nation.  Not only do you see the important contributions
Henry Ford made you see the effect of his work as it
industrialized a nation.  

Contrary to common belief, he did not invent the automobile.
What he invented was much more significant than a mere
car.  He invented the way cars could be manufactured in the
numbers that would be required by the public. He invented
the assembly line.

Visitors to the museum see his original assembly line at the
museum. One can almost imagine the workers assembling
the vehicles as you see the workstations. Primitive by today’
s standards, Ford’s original assemble line had one thing in
common with today’s technology. Things would go wrong!

A common workplace scenario
Virtually every production manager has had to deal with
equipment failure at the peak of demand. The Sales
Department is yelling to get the orders out. Customer
Service is urgently asking about individual orders. Overtime
is a possibility, but you are already over budget. Despite all
this the day seems to going pretty good because your best
shift has just taken their positions and the belts are moving
at near record speeds.

Then suddenly an alarm goes off because a key piece of
equipment has failed.
In most facilities the key emphasis immediately becomes,
“Who is responsible?” Purveyors of this question will justify it
by saying, “we need to know who made the mistake so it
doesn't happen in the future.”

Actually this question is even more detrimental than the
breakdown in the production line. The problem with finding
fault is that it automatically assumes a single person or
department is responsible for the failure. Although true in a
rare number of cases, the real cause of problems in an
organization stems from the culture of the organization.

In the case of the broken down production line, the most
important thing to do is to get the production line running
again. The overriding question should be, “how we work
together as a team to get the line up and running as quickly
as possible?”

Once the production line is running, it becomes acceptable
to find out how we can prevent a future breakdown. However
the question we need to ask ourselves is not, “who is
responsible?” The correct question is, “how did we create a
culture that allowed this breakdown to happen, and how can
we adjust our culture to get better results in the future?’

I have worked with hundreds of companies over the years
and have been amazed at the difference in these two
approaches. Regardless of which approach an organization
is taking, they always seem to feel the result will be the same
- a better future.

In reality, those companies looking for someone to blame
have a broken culture that will lead to ultimate failure.
Through a fault finding expedition they ultimately create a
culture where employees are always looking to save
themselves and their jobs. This approach requires
individuality at the sake of teamwork.

On the other hand when a company understands the
problem is the culture, instead of the people, they inherently
take a progressive approach that produces true long-term
results.

Henry Ford said it best, “Don't find fault, find a solution.” The
solution-based approach is not so naive to think that a single
individual or department may have been responsible for the
error as it is wise to understand the culture can single-
handedly make a company poor, good, or even great.

This is an excerpt from “Life’s Leadership Lessons” a
collection of 53 anecdotal leadership lessons, each with an
anecdote and the application of the topic in your everyday
life. It is designed for use in weekly staff meetings or for
personal development.
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