Making an Ash of Yourself
Let's look at this logically. The volcano erupts, spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere. The ash grounds planes all over Europe, stranding travelers everywhere. One of those travelers was supposed to get home for an important meeting in another city. Because they didn't make it, their coworkers were forced to work overtime to make up for their absence. Those long hours caused another division located closer to you to pick up the slack. One person on the team was already putting in long hours... the additional work causing greater sleep deprivation. On his way into the office, he wasn't paying attention and switched lanes without looking or signaling, causing a 15-car pile-up on the busiest thoroughfare between your home and your office. Your car was one of the hundreds backed up. So you were late. But it was ultimately the volcano's fault.
Systems thinking is both a blessing and a curse. Understanding relationships among events - even those spread out by time and space - helps to understand the natural flow of information and activity, which in turn allows for problem solving and opportunity identification. Some people can abuse these systems relationships by creating undue cause-and-effect (i.e., unaccountable blame).
It is important to learn how to trace outcomes back to inputs, and to know where those inputs come from. However, almost every human system has some degree of autonomy... unlike automation or nature, we can choose our responses to the inputs around us.
How do you differentiate between effective system accountability and blaming circumstances on events around you? How do you hold others accountable who try to "abuse the system"?