I must have missed this bug... I made this fatal commit to the production branch... The rollback didn't save the release... Growth metrics are 50% less than expected...
That's how approximately the hierarchy of epic fails is lined up in any IT company. On each and every level, people experience their own mini epic-fails, if the fail is perceived as such at the top of the organizational pyramid, starting the vortex of blame that rolls back to the bottom. The fail mentality then grows into the roadblocks that stand in the way of major goals, and makes people approach organizational challenges not with the mindset of accomplishing things, but with something like: "It must be my personal epic fail. I'm to blame. But.. it's not only me. That's how things are tied up. Anyway, how do I personally cope with it? How do I excuse myself, to push this blame vortex away somewhere?" Once this thinking sets in, it means doom.
The truth is, those mini epic-fails are the wrong ones. The real epic fail would occur if people on all those levels were incompetent at their job, and hence shouldn't have been hired at all. It's someone's job to set meaningful goals for competent employees and hold them accountable for results as opposed to the false goal of making them feel it's their epic fail. Is it at all productive to set on figuring out where the single point of epic fail is? The chain goes like that: anyone in a higher position of power has not enough space inside of them to process the alleged epic fail, and instinctively looks to turn it reverse, into the outward direction. Then the ball can be kicked endlessly.
Here's one example of such a wrong epic fail. Steve Ballmer, who is one foot out of the door from Microsoft confessed in his exit interview that the real reason behind his resign was being pushed too hard by the board to enact the organizational changes in the company. Apparently, Steve blamed himself on being too slow in running the changes. He saw this as his own epic fail, questioning his own ability to be a successful change agent. The board didn't see themselves committing an epic fail as they ambushed the professional, who was amid of doing his job, to quit. Now, who will find out if the changes that would have gone with their pace as intended by Ballmer will have evolved into meaningful results in their due time? The effect is quite the opposite as the board now needs another CEO, and the so much sought after "change" — whatever their definition of that is — will not happen for even longer, as they wouldn't let Ballmer follow through on his job. Who is now incompetent: the board or Ballmer? Considering that Microsoft is now targeting consumer electronics, the question might be if that's the right direction at all, the one that they have chosen, maybe that's where the epic fail is hiding?