May 7, 2007 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Do Heads Need to Roll to Make People Happy?

After a major flooding incident at a mine in Canada, Cameco published a report on their root cause analysis of the accident. The Regina Leader-Post published an article about the report and the reaction of some financial analysts that I thought was quite interesting.

First, the article said:

“The root-cause report into that flood concluded neither Cameco nor its contractor had identified risk scenarios, nor did they have necessary controls in place to prevent the flooding of the shaft.”

Later in the article, it provided some quotes from analysts. One analyst was quoted as follows:

“William Vogel, an analyst with Harbor View Growth Equity Management in Connecticut, said Cameco appeared to have a ‘lax’ corporate culture. He said he would have expected the company would ‘have fired a lot of people,’ considering that lives were at stake in the mine. ‘I don’t think you have a standards problem. I think you have a people problem,’ Vogel said.”

What can you learn from this article?

Some people just aren’t happy until heads roll (discipline is taken by firing people).

This brings up the whole issue of the basis of performance improvement.

Do we BLAME incidents on people and fire them to improve performance OR do we find the system problems and fix them to ensure improved performance?

It seems that the analyst is in the blame camp. Without performing an investigation, he knew the answer … fire a lot of people!

Where does your corporate performance improvement philosophy fall? Is it oriented toward blame or system improvements? And what approach will yield the best long-term results? This could be a major lesson learned!

Root Cause Analysis
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