When things go wrong, more often than not, there’s a desire to blame individuals. Culpability is rarely ascribed on a collective, organisational or institutional level. But what if individuals 'fit in' with what they believe will be accepted – whether by their group, by their bosses or by their company?
Case in point: Mid-Staffordshire. The Francis Report made clear that the basic cause of what happened – or what was allowed to happen – within Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust was an across-the-board, wholesale failure of culture. The practices that developed were totally inconsistent with the basic obligations of any NHS employee and the professional duties of any clinician. The erosion of acceptable conduct was essentially all-encompassing. In Francis’s words, staff 'did the system’s business'.
This is a classic case of what has come to be known as 'people risk', the central tenet of which is that such incidents can almost always be traced back to internal hierarchies that permit major errors of judgment to go undetected, ignored or suppressed until calamity strikes. Salutary lessons abound in various fields.