"We're not interested in assigning blame."

New / EngpFaT50
Feb 8 14 Comments

I heard this phrase from a VP yesterday while doing a post-mortem. Has anyone ever heard management use that phrase and mean it? I was reflecting upon my past experiences, and it always includes lots of trying to find someone to blame.

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TOP 14 Comments
  • Facebook
    Xlajd

    Facebook

    BIO
    _
    Xlajdmore
    Here's a comment from a former boss in the Navy. "I'm not as interested in getting to the root of the problem as I am in seeing someone punished."

    That one sentence explains why Navy ships are crashing into other ships and why it's not going to improve.
    Feb 80
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • MathWorks £€€¥
      Yeah, their SRE book has an entire section on blame free post mortem.
      Feb 8
    • Google / Eng
      prodaccess

      GoogleEng

      BIO
      Top Contributor or GTFO
      prodaccessmore
      Yep. It should be common knowledge that people leanr from their mistakes.
      Feb 8
    • Google / Eng
      nocomp

      GoogleEng

      PRE
      Oracle
      nocompmore
      People have been promoted for that too :) (well, by acting well and fixing it)
      Feb 8
  • PayPal hot4heels
    There are companies that truly do that and mean it and even embrace the “failure as learning” model. And there are companies that don’t (Amazon being the biggest offender I know of).
    Feb 81
    • Amazon / MgmtDb8db4
      I'm sorry for the teams that gave you that impression
      Feb 8
  • Bank of America Quackers
    Have used that line countless times. If there's a behavior issue it should be coached and managed. Not interested in that, just need to assess risk, remediate, and prevent future issues.
    Feb 82
    • VMware BobbleHat
      The system should be built so behavior issues aren’t going to cause problems.
      Feb 8
    • Bank of America Quackers
      I would agree, if a bad change or code goes into prod, its a systemic issue. If qa is catching a lot of issues its a behavioral issue. If prod and uat are configured differently slightly differently(always is no matter how many people have tried to disagree) that's what needs to be addressed
      Feb 8
  • VMware BobbleHat
    That’s why you suck /s. Finding someone to blame causes people to hide the actual truth instead of really digging into why there was a failure.
    Feb 80
  • Facebook cynical.ly
    Facebook's Sev reviews are done pretty much like that. There are cases where incidents are caused by human errors. Even in those cases, the review focuses on getting to the root of the problem, and how to make systems to automatically prevent such a mistake from getting committed, or at least provide them enough info so that the engineer can check and make sure that it doesn't cause problems.
    Feb 80
  • Oscar 🐨koala
    “But we need someone to write the postmortem.”
    Feb 80
  • Microsoft / Engdeadpan
    Humans are fallible. There's always going to be mistakes. If the plan for improving reliability is to discipline (or fire) people who make mistakes, the team is completely doomed to fail. People who think that way need to be fixed or fired, for the benefit of the team.
    Feb 80

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