Things go wrong all the time. As part of my thinking around dealing with failure in a constructive and restorative way I’ve been thinking about ways of monitoring the performance of a system and how if something goes wrong, the failure is recorded and prioritised by the impact it has on normal functioning.

Some definitions

When I say system, I don’t mean software, I mean whatever complex social, intellectual, technical, political, emotional system we exist as individuals and as teams. I’m talking about business a bit, but mostly I’m talking about life.

When I talk about failures I’m talking about bugs as something that occurs that prevents the system from proceeding as expected. There are three parts to that; ‘occurs’ means the bug has to be something new that happens, not an existing on-going problem. ‘Prevent from proceeding’ means the bug causes a change of direction from the course that life/the system was following. And ‘as expected’ means that the course doesn’t need to have been a documented plan, there just needs to be an expectation about how things should be.

A personal experiment

So, to see what I can learn about failure I’m going to write a bug report for everything that goes wrong for me in a week. I’ll include:

  • What went wrong.
  • What impact did it have.
  • What did I do to deal with the failure.
  • What could I do to prevent it occurring again.

After a week of consciously considering how these everyday bugs occur and what impact they have, I will hopefully learn something useful about dealing with failure.