The blameless post mortem: how embracing failure makes us better

Wednesday 12:20 pm to 12:50 pm, in Salon F-H

About This Talk

While developing software, bugs and mistakes are inevitable. Come to hear how we can improve the approaches we often take as software developers to work better with one another in heated moments of failure and the aftermath of incidents. Through better interactions we can build better teams and create better services.

In my career I have worked in a blameless post-mortem and a blame-full post mortem environment, across a variety of projects ranging from individual python libraries, to core infrastructure for a cloud. I am excited to share how I think not assigning blame when things go wrong results in a better team and a better product.


  • Intro / A brief history of bugs
  • Viewing bugs differently
  • Looking at other industries
    • NTSB
    • Medicine
  • How changing blame and failure association opens new doors
  • The structure of a post mortem
  • An example incident and post mortem
  • An example for why we don’t blame
  • Cultivating the right culture
  • Testing for blamelessness
  • What to do when you seem to have no failures


    Photo of

    Chris Wilcox

    Chris is a developer at Google, splitting time between Python and Node.js communities with a focus on improving the Google Cloud Client Libraries. He has spent his career working on developer tooling and libraries. In Chris’ spare time he races motorcycles, volunteers with a motorcycle training organization, hikes, and explores the Seattle brewing scene.