While reading Effective DevOps¹ I found a very interesting point.
In an environment where humans are blamed and punished for errors, a culture of fear can build up walls that prevent clear communication and transparency.
It is absolutely true, organisation tends to segregate the work between distinct very specialised teams hiding behind walls built with SLA (Service Level Agreement) and RAM (Responsibility assignment matrix). These are useful tools and the management is more confortable with clear contracts between teams, but at the opposite they kill collaboration.
Contrast this with a blameless environment, where issues are addressed cooperatively and viewed as learning opportunities for individuals and the organisation.
These two environments are described in the book Field Guide to Understanding Human Error² as the old view vs. the new view.
I have tried to highlight below the main differences as explained in Effective DevOps when a problem or a failure occurs.
- Old view: Individual
- New view: Structural
Cause of failure / problem
- Old view: Malice, incompetence
- New view: Context, lack of knowledge
- Old view: Personal blamed and shamed
- New view: Cooperative learning opportunity
The main tool to enable cooperative learning is shared stories.
Lead to increased transparency and trust within a team
Instruct our coworkers in how to avoid a costly mistake without having directly experience it; and
Increase the time spent on solving new problems, allowing for more innovation.
- Katherine Daniels & Jennifer Davis, Effective DevOps (O'Reilly, 2015)