Pattern: Blameless Inquiry

When a problem occurs, focusing on the event instead of the people involved allows them to learn from mistakes without fear of punishment

Blameless Inquiry

A company is proficiently delivering existing products or services while investing some resources into continued innovation. There is a lot of uncertainty, and experimentation is required for figuring out the tech and exploring new business opportunities. Naturally, many of the experiments lead to dead ends.

In This Context

When no inquiry is done after a problem occurs or an experiment fails, the team doesn’t improve and is likely to keep making similar mistakes. In many organizations,fault-seeking occurs, and blame gets assigned to anyone involved with a problem. This leads to mediocre performance, since most innovative actions carry significant risk.


Understand what went wrong by focusing on the problem instead of the peopleinvolved.Talk about what went wrong and why, and how to avoid it in the future. Don’t punish people for mistakes—encourage them to learn from the experience instead. This creates the psychological safety required for taking risks.


People have the autonomy and the confidence to try and fail, and try again.