You work on a team that fixes complex systems under time pressure. Your teammates have different skill sets, different priorities, and different levels of expertise. But you all have to troubleshoot and solve problems together. This is very hard to do effectively. Fortunately for the relatively new domain of DevOps, situations like these have been studied extensively over the last couple decades, and we can use the results of this research to inform our own processes and automation for troubleshooting.
Common ground, an important concept in recent teamwork research, helps us understand why collaborative troubleshooting breaks down over time, leading to wasted effort and mistakes. Drawing on common ground as well as some ideas from medical diagnosis, Dan Slimmon demonstrates that by extending ChatOps, we can make troubleshooting much easier without losing the benefits of fluid team conversation. Dan discusses differential diagnosis—a formalized reasoning process used by doctors to diagnose complicated problems—and shows off a little automation that sits at the intersection of these two theoretical frameworks that can make team troubleshooting much more effective.
Dan Slimmon is in charge of Ops for the Minneapolis-based machine-to-machine engineering firm Exosite, where he’s responsible for developing the infrastructure that drives Exosite’s data platform toward ever-greater performance and reliability. Before moving to the Midwest, Dan managed the operations team at Blue State Digital, whose SaaS online marketing platform is leveraged by hundreds of political campaigns and nonprofits. Making frequent use of statistical methods and data visualization, Dan evangelizes for ubiquitous measurement in software development, infrastructure design, and really everything a business does. He builds insight by examining tech through lots of different lenses, from the social to the mathematical to the historical to the linguistic.
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