Coming back from maternity leave and learning from incidents.

Published on
June 30, 2022
Vanessa Huerta Granda
Vanessa Huerta Granda
Solutions Engineer
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The Why

I had been working at Jeli for almost a year when I gave birth to my (beautiful) twins and went on maternity leave. I am very passionate about my work and I was worried about what I would miss out on while out; I thrive on being on top of things, knowing what we are working on and what our next steps are. Turns out twins keep you pretty busy, so I barely thought about work until it was time to go back!

Part of my job at Jeli is to make sure we practice what we preach. So, early last year, I started the practice of holding internal learning reviews using our own tools. On my first day back I noticed we’d had an incident the previous Friday (an incident that would turn out to be ongoing). During my initial conversations with my team we decided it would make sense for me to investigate this incident. This was beneficial for a couple of reasons; the incident needed someone to review it, and I could make use of one of our newest features coming out in a couple of weeks.

The Process

Conducting the incident investigation was actually easier than I remembered. I’ve done many incident reviews in my life, coached others, and written extensively about Learning From Incidents, but I’ll admit I was scared. I always tell folks that doing this kind of work is like a muscle—the more you do it the easier it gets—and it had been a while since I had done an investigation. But, fortunately I had access to a tool that relieved my apprehension and made the whole thing easier for me: Jeli, of course.

Our Jeli incident response and analysis tool automatically creates an investigation with the transcript of the incident’s main Slack channel. I then was able to piece together other channels where the incident was discussed and see it all together in Jeli. Once I had all my info in one place, I started weaving a full narrative of the incident and jotted down questions I had. Based on those questions, I pulled out a list of 4 key players who I wanted to interview.

During my interviews I was able to understand the incident from the point of view of different responders. I got a first-hand explanation of some of the new technologies we are using and the reasoning behind some of the latest design decisions. These one on one conversations also allowed me to catch up with coworkers I had not spoken to in months!

With Jeli, I was able to very easily create timelines to understand the incident; this gave me the supporting evidence I needed to make my points easily available, and the narrative features to anchor myself during the review meeting!

The Learnings

During this process we were able to extract a number of learnings from this incident, many of which will lead to improvements in the way we work. Plus, on a selfish note, I was also able to catch up on much of what I had missed during my leave. During my investigation I started to understand how things currently work at Jeli; how our technology has changed and why, what features we have been working on and who’s been working on them, what is important to us now and what is important to our users!

For example, during the review meeting, I had one of our engineers walk all of us through how we do some of our database work and how that has changed in the past few months. We were able to discuss as a group why this issue was considered an incident, which highlighted our priorities as an organization. While reviewing Slack channels I saw who was in charge of what and how we were communicating with our customers! Finally, because I was using our own software to conduct my investigation, I got to test first hand the features that we are putting out into the world!

At Jeli,  we’ve often discussed how Learning From Incidents can be a great onboarding tool. While I wasn’t starting a new job, by doing this incident review I was able to re-onboard myself into working life. By the time I was done with my review, I felt I was right back to working how I always had! Becoming a new parent is a monumental change. I am grateful for the opportunity to take the time I needed to bond with my babies, with a supportive team waiting for me when I was ready to transition back to the working world!