Project Management

Cap the Project Blame: The Shared Responsibility Approach

PMI Northern Alberta Chapter

Craig is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and has worked with ProjectManagement.com for the last six years developing the various HEADWAY processes (Project, Change and Portfolio). He has hosted a series of webinars and is a business intelligence subject matter expert.

Have you ever worked on a project where blame seems to run rampant? Where differing stakeholders point the finger at others and identify "them" as the source of the problem? Where terms such as “they,” "those people" and "that group" are used freely to justify one’s own failed actions or inactions? Where department names like IT, HR, Operations, Marketing, Maintenance and <substitute your term here> are referenced with such a tone that they are clearly meant to be some kind of slur? Where fingers are actually pointed at real and imagined people during the project meeting?

If the above sounds familiar, you are operating in a blame environment and your project may be at risk. In this article, I will examine the concept of shared responsibility and identify some steps you can take to start moving your stakeholders in a positive direction--and away from a Game of Thrones-like project environment.

The Concept
I was first exposed to the concept of shared responsibility a number of years ago. I was consulting for a client as they attempted to identify and overcome some of the bigger obstacles on their projects. One of those toe-stubbing obstacles that continually reared itself was the organization's inability to pay its contractors accurately and on time for the project work they had completed. As a result, because…


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"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."

- Pablo Picasso