Session type:

Session duration:
60 minutes

Presented by:

Liz Keogh

Lunivore Limited

About this Workshop

Etsy's "Blameless Postmortem" has been getting a lot of press lately, but what do you do if "blameless" in your organisation means "We know whose fault it is, but we're not going to talk about that today"?

In this workshop, we look at an alternative format based on the principles of deliberate discovery and real options. Find out how to ask powerful questions and elicit suggestions that result in real change, even in high-uncertainty situations.

In groups of 4, participants each share a story of a problem they've encountered where the problem has caused difficulties for themselves or others. We then look at different aspects of the problem:

  • When did information arrive?
  • When were erroneous commitments or investments made based on information or lack of it?
  • Would it have been reasonable to gather information ahead of time that might have resulted in a different decision?
  • If not, what could we do to turn the commitment into an option? What safety nets could we introduce?
We are careful to ask the questions "When did information arrive? When were decisions made?" using the passive voice, to avoid Etsy's "What did you do?" in situations where the culture still lends itself to defensiveness. This allows information to be surfaced without worrying about who did what. We also look at the inevitability of making erroneous decisions in uncertainty and the importance of safety nets when making those decisions.

Lastly, we map each group's ideas for change against 2 axes - "easy" versus "important" - and see if we can separate things that are feasible from things that are too hard or won't make enough difference.

In a real organisation, the things on the right of the line (both easy and important) are things that people are willing to sign up to, often splitting the changes into smaller things that might make at least a bit of a difference.

This technique is particularly useful for looking at production incidents or other urgent problems that caused pain or damage, and has helped a number of organisations to improve.

About the Speaker

Liz Keogh is a lean and agile consultant based in London. She is a well-known blogger and international speaker, a core member of the BDD community and a contributor to a number of open-source projects including JBehave. She has a strong technical background, with 20 years' experience in delivering value and coaching others to deliver, from small start-ups to global enterprises. Most of her work now focuses on lean, agile and organisational transformations, and the use of transparency, positive language, well-formed outcomes and safe-to-fail experiments in making change innovative, easy and fun.


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