The Blame Game is something I like to play. No, this does not mean projecting my faults upon others – do you really think that lowly of me? The Blame Game is where I assess the multiple factors of blame for a given problem. You will commonly see what I call the Blame Game used in civil lawsuits determining to what extent someone is financially responsible. A more commonly used term for this is comparative fault or comparative responsiblity.
I’ll explain it with an real world example – determining who is financially responsible for a car accident when both drivers are “at fault”. Bob rolled through the stop sign drunk, but James was speeding and didn’t stop at all. The court would have to decide who is responsible for the damages – the judge might decide Bob is 70% financially responsible and James is 30%.
I use the Blame Game as a way to think through all the factors that contribute to a problem. While driving around New Zealand, I noticed that the FM radio reception is piss-poor. Why is this? Well Brian, there are a number of things that contribute, it isn’t just a simple answer. Ok, so let’s break it down into comparable responsibilities.
Of course there isn’t really a right answer, just something that you can defend. If you are so inclined, help me out by assigning some percentages:
1. Landscape (lots of mountains in the way)
2. Lower frequency band than in the States
3. Differences in how signal is broadcasted (for example using less power to send the signal)
4. Shape of the earth (the spheroid bends away faster here, FM is line of sight)
This type of thinking is particularly useful any time many factors contribute to something. Let’s not be content simply saying “the environment” shaped the outcome. What parts of the environment? Which is the breakdown of responsibility?
Our Blame Game answers can then be used to determine which corrective action will yield the greatest result (also useful would be estimates of how difficult each corrective action would be). Now you’re thinking like a product manager – effort and reward tradeoffs.
Yes, this is something that actually goes through my mind while alone. Not the nerdiest example either (it would probably involve maths (kiwis use “maths” rather than “math”)).
Photo: Randy von Liski