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College of Science & Mathematics

Google Goes Blameless


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Raymond Blum presented his lecture, "Forged - Not Broken," on October 16, 2012

What is a technical postmortem analysis and what’s its significance in implementing it in your best business practices? Google’s Site Reliability Engineer Raymond Blum explained just that during his recent lecture at the college-sponsored Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Series – the first of two this fall.  Blum’s informative, yet entertaining presentation, Forged – Not Broken, demonstrated how Google’s “blameless engineering culture” is essential for effective incident remediation and postmortem analysis. He challenged the standing-room only crowd to ask themselves questions as part of the analysis, including what happened, why did it happen, how did we respond and recover, and how to prevent this unexpected issue from happening again.  He explained his company’s successful and unique philosophy that if you hire smart people and something goes wrong – don’t assign blame or fire that individual who made the mistake – you’ll lose their knowledge. Instead, find value in the employee who recognizes and remediates the error, and have confidence that the employee won’t make the same mistake twice.
 
Computer Science Professor Jennifer Kay remarked how impressed she was upon hearing Blum present at the Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) workshop for K-12 teachers this summer.  Rowan hosted the Google-sponsored event that promotes computer science and computational thinking in high school and middle school curriculum. “Blum spoke briefly on postmortem analysis concept and I was immediately impressed with his ability to explain technical concepts to a general audience.”   When the opportunity came to suggest high caliber speakers for the successful dean’s lecture series, Kay immediately knew Blum would be a perfect fit. “While I was expecting a reasonable attendance at the event, I was wowed by the 200 plus attendees,” said Kay.

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