The AD Way

The AD Way

April 13, 2020

Dear AD members and suppliers,

Every week the AD staff spends time learning about one of our company’s behavioral fundamentals. This week it’s “Practice Blameless Problem Solving.” How apropos for these times! The wording of our fundamental is directly below. Below that, is the message I sent our team this morning. You might enjoy reading it.


Apply your creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm to developing solutions, rather than pointing fingers and dwelling on problems. Identify lessons learned to improve our processes so we don’t make the same mistake again. Get smarter with every mistake.

I’ve got a question for you. Whose fault is the coronavirus?

What I’ve been told, some guy in Wuhan, China. Dude ate a bat, got sick, and passed it on. But then I looked that up. What I learned is that people have been eating bats for centuries. Truth. And doing so, all those many years, without creating pandemics.

So maybe the guy who ate the bat is not the one to blame. Maybe he just ate a “bad” bat. You know? And if that was the case, the blame could lie with the merchant at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market who sold him the bad bat, or their supplier.

Of course, in their defense, maybe the bat didn’t go bad until after they sold it. Maybe the guy who bought the bat didn’t store or cook it properly. That would put the blame right back on him. Or possibly, his wife. Depending, you know, on whose turn it was to cook. There’s also the role of his parents to consider in properly allocating blame. What we learn from our parents greatly influences what we do as adults. I’m 64 and I still blame my parents for all sorts of things. So yeah, I’m guessing there’s a whole lot of finger pointing going on at their family dinner table.

As the virus spread around the globe, finger pointing spread with it.

The government of China, the World Health Organization, President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, college kids on spring break, U.S. Customs, pastors keeping their churches open, Arielle Charnas, Bill de Blassio, Rudy Gobert, Boris Johnson, Jared Kushner, some lady on a bus, the US army, 3M, cruise ships, Italians, the CDC, Fox News . . . I’ve seen stories placing some portion of the blame on each of them.

So, whose fault is the coronavirus? Who’s to blame for how fast and how far it spread? Who’s to blame that we’re stuck in our homes, that our kids can’t go to school, that our churches are only open online, that we must wear face masks and keep away from each other when we venture out?

Frankly, I don’t know, and I don’t care.

I don’t like what’s happening. And I don’t agree with everything that’s being imposed upon us in response. But casting blame does me zero good. It’s a total waste of my time and energy. As are: second guessing what others did or did not do, fretting over past decisions (mine and those of others), sulking, being resentful, worrying, and being negative. It’s understandable to feel those emotions or think those thoughts when we’re stressed. But that doesn’t make them helpful.

Rather, as best we can, we need to focus our energy, thoughts and emotions on how best to: live our lives, do our jobs, add value, stay safe, connect with others, be true to our beliefs, and make a positive difference within this current reality.

We can’t always control our circumstances. We can control our attitude about them. So, I’m not going to let myself get caught up in casting blame or dragged down into negativity. And I’m going to practice this week’s fundamental every single day until this crisis ends. How so?

By applying my creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm to developing positive solutions.