Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What It Means to Live in the Solution: I Don't Throw People Under the Bus

You’re joyfully doing your job. You tackle your responsibilities one by one. You check in with your supervisor to keep her apprised of your progress. You collaborate with colleagues, as needed, so your work reflects their contributions. Everything is going great.

Then you see your back in the mirror. Running lengthwise is an imprint of three deep, wide grooves. You immediately recognize them as belonging to a bus. You realize you’ve been thrown under the bus without your knowing it.

By definition, when you throw someone under the bus you cast them in an unfavorable light with others. You also take action or make statements intended to put them at a disadvantage. 

I also know all too well that you’re thrown under the bus when there’s a search for someone to blame. More specifically, here’s what I glean from instances when the technique has been used:

  • The project manager did not want to accept responsibility for its slow progress;
  • This same person feels a need to blame someone if for no other reason than to avoid criticism by management; 
  • It's unacceptable to not explain why the state of affairs is less than ideal;
  • You offer a logical alternative for why circumstances are less than ideal; and
  • You are not present in the room when the subject comes up with management, so you cannot object. 

Voila. You find yourself thrown under the bus. 

To make my position clear: I accept responsibility when it’s appropriate. When it’s not, it’s not. I don’t feel a need to blame someone else no matter how uncomfortable that may be. I also stand up for those not present who may be candidates for being thrown under the bus.

In short, living in the solution means I don’t throw people under the bus. 

(I've written four blog posts, including this one, on what it means to live "in the solution." Read them here, here, here, and here). 

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