DevOps the new view

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, organization tends to segregate the work between distinct very specialized 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 organization.

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.

  1. Katherine Daniels & Jennifer Davis, [Effective Devops] ( (O’Reilly, 2015) ↩︎

  2. Sidney Dekker, Field Guide to Understanding Human Error (CRC Press, 2006) ↩︎