Reboot Podcast Episode #40 – Beyond Blame – with Dave Zwieback

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.

Episode 40 // May 12, 2016

The way to start would be, first, when we feel the tendency to blame, to try to get in touch with what it feels like to be holding on to ourselves so tightly. What does it feel like to blame? How does it feel to reject? What does it feel like to hate? What does it feel like to be righteously indignant?


Dave Zweiback

Dave Zweiback

Author of "Beyond Blame: Learning from Failure and Success.

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Episode Description

There’s something calming about finding a target for our blame.  It’s like in this moment of being lost in a rough sea of chaos and uncertainty, a person to assign the fault is like an unsinkable lifeboat to grasp.  We climb aboard, take a deep breath, and relax.  We do this as individuals, we do this in organizations, we do this as a society, but what incredibly valuable opportunities lie in resisting the urge to assign blame? What might we learn in what didn’t (or did) work if we explore a bit more?  

Jerry is joined today by author and CTO, Dave Zwieback, to talk about just that.  Dave, in his book, “Beyond Blame: Learning from Failure and Success” explores the risk of blame, how it fails to identify the immense complexity and interdependency of the world around us, and the real cost of rapidly assigning fault. If we pause and explore, we may just find that blame often prevents us from doing the very thing we want most – to learn and to grow.

Dave Zwieback on Twitter

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“A lot of the behaviors that are in the book are default behaviors with respect to learning from and dealing with failure.” – Dave Zwieback

“Throughout my career, I have witnessed and have been part of a lot of fairly significant failures.” – Dave Zwieback

“In both cases of a success or a failure, we pretty quickly want to get to the person (or people) who did or didn’t do something.” – Dave Zwieback

“Blame is a short circuit.” – Dave Zwieback

“A blameless retrospective is an inquiry into what happened that is not designed to find fault, but rather to understand and learn.” – Jerry Colonna

“The point of a traditional post mortem is to find exactly who is at fault. The point of the blameless post-mortem is to learn.” – Dave Zwieback

“There is no single root cause, and it is far more complex than that.” – Dave Zwieback

“The traditional default definition of accountability basically translates to ‘Whose throat am I going to choke when things go bad, and who am I going to reward when things go correctly?’” – Dave Zwieback

“Both the failures and successes don’t really rest with a single individual.” – Dave Zwieback

“Restorative justice is a notion of recognizing that failures occur, but in addition to failure there is also pain and suffering that occurs with that failure.” – Jerry Colonna

“Ultimately, if you are worried about shame then you should be taking on responsibility for the failure even if there is a nuanced and complex system that failed.” – Jerry Colonna

“There’s a whole genre of people talking about the things that they think contribute to their success or their failures. This is storytelling. Reality is a lot more complex and nuanced than this.” – Dave Zwieback

“The root cause of anything with both functioning and malfunctioning complex systems is the fact that things are changeable.” – Dave Zwieback

“Change and impermanence are the norm.” – Jerry Colonna

“Any system that is functioning is in fact changing.” – Dave Zwieback

“Change is a byproduct of aliveness within the organization.” – Jerry Colonna

“The organization that isn’t changing is not growing. Organizations that aren’t growing aren’t inhaling and exhaling. They aren’t breathing. They’re dead.” – Jerry Colonna

“Blame has a freezing effect in the same way that anxiety has a freezing effect. Things feel immovable, static, and dead.” – Dave Zwieback

“We are busy, and the question is if we are busy with the right things.” – Dave Zwieback

“We shouldn’t blame ourselves for being blameful because that is part of the human condition.” – Dave Zwieback

“Sometimes things just don’t go right, and it’s actually more helpful to understand what happened than it is to seek to figure out who did it.” – Jerry Colonna

“A first step in creating the non-violent organization is to actually remove blame from the process.” – Jerry Colonna

“You cannot go beyond blame without awareness. You cannot build non-violent companies without awareness.” – Dave Zwieback