It’s not unusual to ask who is at fault when mistakes in an organization are made. We want to know who was to blame. Before asking who is accountable for a mistake, I’d ask what lead to the mistake. Was the error a people or a process issue?
If a document with mistakes is shared with people outside of an organization, there is a process issue.
Yes, someone made a mistake. Someone wasn’t careful or knowledgeable enough to catch the error. But if a document’s accuracy is important, more than one person should be looking at that document before it leaves the organization. When only one person looks at an important document, there is a process issue.
Processes include: The practices followed and the tools used when creating, proofreading, saving, and storing work.
William Ury, author of the negotiation books Getting to Yes and Getting Past No, said, “Be easy on the people and hard on the process.” When mistakes happen, evaluate the processes surrounding that work. What allowed the mistake to go out the door unchecked? Would a different process with more checks and balances and more eyes on the work have prevented the error?
After evaluating the processes or lack thereof, coach the person who made the mistake. Fill the gap that allowed the mistake to happen, but first, evaluate your processes.