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Beyond Blame: Learning From Failure and Success Paperback – November 3, 2015
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About the Author
- Paperback : 92 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1491906413
- ISBN-13 : 978-1491906415
- Item Weight : 5.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.85 x 0.21 x 8.43 inches
- Publisher : O'Reilly Media; 1st edition (November 3, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Beyond Blame highlights this, in the same way that the Phoenix Project introduces DevOps and how Lencioni tackles team dysfunction. Much like the series of books from Lencioni, Beyond Blame starts with a fictional account that most of us who worked in IT can relate to. The book then progresses to provide actionable steps for transitioning to learn from failure without the caustic consequence of blame and reprisal.
Where I currently work, we conduct postmortems for almost every significant event. For a time, I struggled to understand the importance or value to these - as my previous experience with postmortems were targeted to find the responsible person, not for learning how to make things better. Zwieback's treatment of the purpose of postmortems, as a learning tool that can help us make more resilient systems, cemented for me why we do them and why they are important.
Problems with a culture of blame: accountability means finding a scapegoat, which means that people fear sharing what they know because the repercussions are so extreme. And in any complex system, it's hard to understand what is going on and how things will interact. Stuff will happen - when people don't share what they know, it can't be learned from. When people are fired because they did their best but were operating with incomplete knowledge and something broke as a result, organizational knowledge is lost.
The main process outlined in the book for a blameless culture is the blameless postmortem. People share what happened and what they know, and are not judged (or allowed to judge themselves) with the benefit of hindsight. Then things that need to be followed up on can be identified.
Really the main message I took from the book is that blamelessness is necessary for a culture of accountability - because without blamelessness, it's not safe for people to share the full details of what happened, which means no-one really knows what did happen.
I enjoyed this book; it was a breeze to read through, but is clearly well researched and covers the material well. I especially enjoyed how the author integrated multiple concepts such as Cynefin, cognitive biases, and counterfactuals into the book, and gave an example of running through a blameless postmortem. The last chapter is a summary / guideline how to run a blameless postmortem.
The one thing I wish the author covered, though arguably beyond the scope of the book, is how to prioritize remediation. The book makes the point that not all remedies would be cost-effective to implement, which makes sense, but would have been great to see an illustration of that.
It would have also been good to see a conclusion - a short chapter about how the organization changed after six months.
I do recommend having the authors add a FAQ appendix to the book based on feedback that they receive from their readers. I'm sure they've addressed many common questions from IT professionals. They could even extend the town hall section of the story to include more of these.
Top reviews from other countries
Great read for anyone looking to push away from a blame culture and wants to empower their team and learn from their experiences.