Something Very Bad has happened at your organization. The immediate fire has been put out (maybe some cinders are still smoldering), but now it’s time to get some people into a room and figure out a) how on earth did that happen, and b) how do we make sure it never, ever happens again.
Congratulations, you’re running a post-mortem.
This talk addresses the deep challenges that you’re going to face when you have a roomful of human beings ashamed about some Bad Thing that they were a part of. And, once you understand those challenges, it explains how you can overcome them (spoiler: humor is critical).
It knits together ideas from psychology (e.g. various kinds of ‘cognitive biases’; how the moral instinct works in humans; what humor is and how it functions; etc), with personal experience both running a wide variety of post-mortems, and also building a lot of systems that have failed (sometimes spectacularly).
This talk aims to give you a vision of how crazy valuable an effective post-mortem process can be, plus a wide variety of specific tactics to improve your own practice.
Some topics addressed:
Everyone seems to agree that learning from failure is hugely important, but it can be a surprisingly hard thing to do.
Dan Milstein is a co-founder at Hut 8 Labs, a (tiny, new) software consulting shop in Boston. He’s worked as a programmer, architect, team lead and product owner at a variety of startups over the last 15 years. He is fascinated by the interactions between complex systems and the humans who build and maintain those systems. Some recent writing includes: How To Survive a Ground-Up Rewrite Without Losing Your Sanity, and Coding, Fast and Slow: Developers and the Psychology of Overconfidence.
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