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Friday, February 23 • 1:05pm - 1:10pm
Putting Away the Blamethrowers: Going Beyond Blameless Postmortems

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Sydney Dekker in The Field Guide to Human Error talks about how people often feel that “there needs to be some accountability” when something bad happens, by which they often mean that they should be able to blame the “truly blameworthy”. In contrast to this the local rationality principle talks about the idea that people do what makes sense to them at the time that they are acting, given the goals of what they are trying to accomplish. In these blame seeking moment, motives and reasoning of the people involved are hardly ever taken into consideration and with that the humanity of people is thrown away.
Blame as a whole is anchored in scapegoat theory, hindsight bias and egocentric bias, all of which contribute to the misinformation effect and false memory when trying to actually address why or how something happened. Along with the negative effects that this can have on things like a post incident review, it also can have detrimental effect on the person being blamed as it can cause cognitive dissonance as well as negatively impacting self esteem. This is often an issue between Developers and Operations people. Whether it’s a bug that somehow makes its way to production and takes down the platform or a timeline that slips, there always is someone seeking to blame someone else for what’s going on without taking the time to understand the situation.
With all of these things in mind, this talk will tell the story of blame between Developers and Operations people. It will discuss how stopping at blameless postmortems isn’t enough and willaddress places where blame happens that we may or not be thinking of. In addition it will discuss the related biases (some of which are listed above) that lead us to blame others and how blame negatively impacts individuals, teams, and organization culture as a whole and how that can hinder the DevOps journey. Spring boarding off of that I will offer up some simple things that we all can do to make Developer and Operations relations better along with hopefully making our own worlds better places.


Zachary Newman

I’m a social psychologist masquerading as a Web Operations Software Engineer at SportsEngine. I have a degree in Psychology and Reconciliation, which in the Software Engineer/ Operations field provides me with unique perspective on hows and whys of the ways that things happen in... Read More →

Friday February 23, 2018 1:05pm - 1:10pm EST