Postmortem culture:
How you can learn from failure

Failures are an inevitable part of innovation and can provide great data to make products, services, and organizations better. Google uses “postmortems” to capture and share the lessons of failure.

It’s not about pointing fingers at any given person or team, but about using what we’ve learned to build resilience and prepare for future issues that may arise along the way. By discussing the failures in public and working together to investigate their root causes, everyone gets the opportunity to learn from each incident and to be involved with any next steps.

And while the team has used postmortems primarily to understand engineering problems, organizations everywhere — tech and non-tech — can benefit from postmortems as a critical analysis tool after any event, crisis, or launch. Postmortem’s influence extends beyond that of any document and singular team, and into the organization’s culture itself. Some of the cultural tenets within its process that we find particularly valuable are:

✓ Encouraging blameless and constructive feedback.
✓ Focusing on improvement and resilience.
✓ Promoting an iterative and collaborative process.

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