Build Systems that Drive Business
June 11–12, 2018: Training
June 12–14, 2018: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

Architecting a postmortem

Will Gallego (Fastly)
9:00am–12:30pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Location: LL20 A/B Level: Non-technical
Secondary topics: Resilient, Performant & Secure Distributed Systems
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 2 ratings)

Materials or downloads needed in advance

  • Something to take notes on (a laptop, pen and paper, etc.)

What you'll learn

  • Explore postmortems used at large tech companies with real-world examples of failure scenarios


Engineers are frequently tasked with being front and center in intense, highly demanding situations that require clear lines of communication. Our systems fail not because of a lack of attention or laziness but due to cognitive dissonance between what we believe about our environments and the objective interactions both internal and external to them.

It’s time to revisit your established beliefs surrounding failure scenarios, with an emphasis not on the “who” in decision making but instead on the “why” behind those decisions. With attention to growth mindset, you can encourage your teams to reject shallow explanations of human error for said failures and focus on how to gain greater understanding of these complexities and push the boundaries on what you believe to be static, unchanging context outside your sphere of influence.

Will Gallego walks you through the structure of postmortems used at large tech companies with real-world examples of failure scenarios and debunks myths regularly attributed to failures. You’ll learn how to incorporate open dialogue within and between teams to bridge these gaps in understanding.

Photo of Will Gallego

Will Gallego


Will Gallego is a senior engineer at Fastly, where he builds scalable, distributed backend systems and tools to help engineers grow. Will is a systems engineer with 15+ years of experience in web technologies. He believes in a free and open internet, blame-aware postmortems, and pronouncing GIF with a soft “G”.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Audra Carter
06/14/2018 7:55am PDT

Yes, there will be a recording of the talk on Safari if you want to see the whole thing, Khuong.

Picture of Will Gallego
06/14/2018 6:42am PDT

Hi Khuong,

I believe O’Reilly/Velocity will have recordings of the talk in the near future and I should be able to pass along slides. In the mean time, you can find information I suggested as “homework” from the following places:
- The Etsy Debriefing Facilitation Guide:
- Allspaw’s Debriefing Prompts:
- How Complex Systems Fail (Dr. Richard I. Cook):

and the two books suggested were The Field Guide to Understanding ‘Human Error’ by Sidney Dekker (grab the third edition) and The ETTO Princple by Erik Hollnagel

Picture of Khuong Nguyen
Khuong Nguyen | HEAD OF DEVOPS
06/12/2018 9:50am PDT


How can I download the Materials of this workshop/tutorial ?