The Blame Game – But nobody Wins

Situation, you are a consultant assigned as lead engineer for an important customer. Your team successfully executes a carefully planned network upgrade and firewall replacement for #1 customer.

You’ve had planning meetings, you provided two weeks advance notice of the changes, tested the config and checked every detail. You’ve completed the upgrade well within the weekend maintenance window. After final testing you email the customer that the upgrade was completed successfully.

On Monday morning, your cell phone starts ringing before you get to the office. It’s the customer you upgraded over the weekend. Breathless, he tells you the entire accounting department hasn’t been able to print since the firewall upgrade. They need to process salary by 11:00 this morning….. This is urgent, high profile, they’ve already called the IT-Manager. He said to call you directly.

“What? That’s not possible. The firewall doesn’t have anything to do with printing in the accounting department.” You explain all this to the customer, but to no avail. The Blame Game has begun.

As soon as you hang up the phone you get a mail from the IT-Manager, your (normally) best friend in the organisation :-). The email says something like “I thought you said the upgrade wouldn’t impact payroll processing or accounting”?

What could have gone wrong? Everything worked perfectly. You’re running through different scenarios in your mind. Was a cable inadvertently unplugged? Maybe it’s a problem with the printer? No matter, it’s your problem now because you were working on the network so everything is connected to it !!!

Sitting in your car in the parking lot of the coffee shop, you connect to some free WiFi and VPN to the customer. You remote access the print server, twenty-seven jobs in the queue… Sigh!!! You admire the staff and their troubleshooting technique: If the job doesn’t print keep sending it until it does. After quickly determining the IP of the printer you send it a ping. Four replies, good. Then you open IE and browse to the management interface of the printer. There, staring at you is the problem.

Load Paper !!!!!!!!

No One Wins

The Blame Game is a competition to assign (someone else’s) fault and responsibility. In the Blame Game there is no honor in winning because to be victorious one person must humiliate the other. As satisfying as this may sound, it is certainly not beneficial to any form of relationship. Furthermore, there is never a winner, no matter what the circumstances.

Non-technical people can be intimidated by technology. This proves itself in a number of ways but will usually consists as a combination of frustration, anger, lack of (own) initiative, and the inability to follow simple procedures.

Technical people, especially the inexperienced or under qualified, often behave in the same way. Rather than looking at the problem objectively they throw basic trouble-shooting out the window and instead focus on assigning blame.

Strange game, the only winning move is not to play


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