How is failure treated in your district?

An extensive review of employee teams at Google found that the most successful were those with a high level of psychological safety. In other words, when employees felt safe enough to take risks (and make mistakes) without being shamed or criticized, they did better work.

“The wisdom of learning from failure is incontrovertible. Yet organizations that do it well are extraordinarily rare,” wrote Amy Edmondson, the Harvard Business School professor who coined the term “psychological safety.”

Source: What should you do when an employee makes a big mistake at work? — Quartz

The article starts with the story of a newly hired developer who completely destroys the company’s database.

I was basically given a document detailing how to setup my local development environment. Which involves run a small script to create my own personal DB instance from some test data. After running the command i was supposed to copy the database url/password/username outputted by the command and configure my dev environment to point to that database. Unfortunately instead of copying the values outputted by the tool, i instead for whatever reason used the values the document had.

Unfortunately apparently those values were actually for the production database (why they are documented in the dev setup guide i have no idea). Then from my understanding that the tests add fake data, and clear existing data between test runs which basically cleared all the data from the production database. Honestly i had no idea what i did and it wasn’t about 30 or so minutes after did someone actually figure out/realize what i did.

One of the first things the CTO did was to threaten legal action and fire the new developer. But what happened here wasn’t the developer’s fault, it was a systematic failure of best practices. There should have been processes in place to protect a company from errors, and that comes directly from the CTO’s position.

Good companies look at these incidences as a learning experience, and ask why it happened and what can be done so it doesn’t happen in the future. They created a correction of errors (COE) report using 5 Whys to make sure the problem doesn’t happen in the future.

What does your district do when problems arise?


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