Noble Failure

It's OK to fail.

This is a principle embraced by DevOps, that it is OK to fail. Failure is a learning opportunity. Failure provides essential feedback.

Especially if we Fail Fast. It's OK to fail if it's as small and early as possible. DevOps helps.
DevOps is about smaller granularity, of feature, story, code, change, release, target users...
And DevOps is about Shift Left: test earlier in the cycle. Know it is not going to work before it impacts anything.

Experimentation is essential to explore new domains. Change will always have failures. This links to the Cynefin model

In a Simple* familiar scenario you should know what you are doing. Failure is not acceptable.
In a Complicated scenario we should be able to work it out. Failure should usually be avoidable if the right expertise is brought in.
In a Complex situation, failure is how we learn. We need to experiment, sense, probe, explore, try stuff, take a few blind alleys. Failure is highly likely.
In a Chaotic situation, Failure is very likely, as we struggle to make sense and get some order.

Steady state operation will always have failures too. IT systems are complex systems. They are always broken. They will always fail. When they fail we should thank the operators for all the days they didn't fail, not punish them for the one time all the broken bits lined up and took them out.

Of course, failure is only of value if we do learn from it. That is why me must be a learning organisation: we must measure failure and study failure. Even that is not enough unless we feed the learnings back to the system, to the left, to improve it.
What happens to your post-incident reviews? Is there an owner and a process to ensure reviews are acted upon?
We should capitalise on failures to improve the systems, to come back stronger, to be anti-fragile.

If we tried for the right reasons, in the right situation, with good intentions, and everyone did the right things, then this is Noble Failure, as distinct from inept failure.
Noble Failure should be praised and rewarded.

*Dave Snowden changed "Simple" to "Obvious" but I still prefer Simple.

Syndicate content