Friday, July 22, 2016

Is your Organization plagued by the “Culture of Blame”?

Although making mistakes is a part of human nature, they are still tabooed, covered up, or kept secret. This behavior probably has its origin in our socialization. Errors made by people are perceived as a competence deficit. Causing of errors leads to a negative self-assessment, and also to rising perception of penalty as a necessity.

Organizational failure culture is an integral part of corporate culture. It implies the individual and collective knowledge about the meaning of errors and failures in daily work life and the consequences that they might cause. The understanding of errors can be regarded as a continuum between error avoidance and error management. In the extreme position of error avoidance, errors are viewed as an unnecessary risk. This is where the “culture of blame” comes in. It is characterized by the fact that identifying the person to blame is more important than identifying the cause of the error.

The reverse position—error management—reveals errors as an inevitable phenomenon in corporate environment as it is impossible to prevent them from happening. Errors are recognized as potential resources and opportunities to enhance knowledge. They can induce complex learning processes and expand possibilities toward further development and options for action. Contrary to deficit-oriented error avoidance, the error management approach is solution oriented and reflective.

Since organizations can learn from both good and bad actions, a rethinking of these adopted settings is required and there is a need to understand and examine critical factors which support or inhibit the development of an encouraged “learning from failure culture” in an organization.

An encouraged “learning from failure culture” can be influenced by established social support and a reduction of covered up errors. Employees need to feel the social backing and integration in a valuing team to communicate errors. A constructive “learning from failure culture” means to be able to talk about mistakes, deal with them constructively, to learn from them, and, if possible, to take advantage of them. It is not about looking for someone to blame, or about remaining in the past. It is about fear reduction, security and stability, error minimization, and to build up capacity and be able to advance.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Do MDGs remain an unfinished agenda for India?

The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the beginning of this millennium was a culmination of the people-centred development discourse that poverty reduction and freedom from other deprivations at the top of the global development agenda and influenced governments including India towards more inclusive development.  The implementation period for the MDGs ended on 31 December 2015, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to follow them have been adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Summit in September 2015.1 In order to draw lessons from the MDGs for better implementing the SDGs, an assessment of the success of India’s efforts including that of individual states on the MDGs is therefore crucial at this juncture.

A summary assessment in 2015 (UNESCAP, 2015) showed notable but uneven achievement across goals and targets. An article from the Indian Economic Journal analyses India’s performance on the MDGs in greater depth, focusing particularly on assessing the performance of individual Indian states. It has been observed that some states did better in making more rapid improvements than others, all did generally improve on their absolute levels of achievement. This is best illustrated in the article by looking at what is considered the most poorly performing state on the MDGs—Bihar. The state ranked at the bottom in the baseline year as well as in the latest standings. But it too made improvements—only other states improved more. It has also been observed that while India has made major gains in poverty reduction, access to water, combating deadly diseases and halting deforestation and biodiversity loss, its performance on crucial education, health and sanitation indicators has been weak which has serious consequences for its human development and future growth. Thus, the MDGs have remained an unfinished agenda for India.

The MDGs have now been replaced by the SDGs which cover 17 goals to be achieved by 2030. They seek to ensure that the momentum generated by the MDGs is carried forward beyond 2015 to provide a life of dignity to all. Building on the MDGs, the SDGs propose to end poverty and deprivation in all forms, leaving no one behind, while making development economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The lessons from MDG experience need to be learned that will help guide the implementation of the SDGs in the coming years.

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