Appendix A: Using the Starter Guide to adjust the Howie process to fit your organization
As mentioned at the start of this guide, the Howie process can be adjusted depending on the specific context of your team, your organization and the goals for introducing or improving an incident analysis program. Here are two examples from companies that have adopted a Howie process:
Large company developing their first company standard
BoomBox, Inc. was a large multinational company with a centralized dev tools team that sets the standard for how to do incident analysis within the company. While some individual development teams were already doing a brief root-cause analysis after an outage, the core group wanted to introduce a standardized incident review process to maximize the time spent in reviews. To give their dev teams some guidelines without being too prescriptive, they adapted the full Howie process to help their dev teams get started. They rolled out this adapted process to begin building the muscles of doing consistent reviews in a lightweight way.
As they get more buy-in, they plan to introduce more steps (the dotted lines) to their analysis process to get deeper insights, involve more of the company by interviewing, and focus on sharing the findings more broadly outside of involved teams.
Mid-size company improving their existing practices
FastMover, Inc. is a growing company with a strong culture of continuous improvement among their many autonomous dev teams. The teams regularly hold post-incident reviews, but they wanted to get better at them by emphasizing collaboration and engagement. They adapted a Howie process to introduce analysis with Jeli, interviewing, and using the calibration document and training facilitator to make the most of their meetings.
Appendix B: Introducing a new investigation process
Organizational change management is a critical aspect of introducing a new investigation process. Give your new process the best chance of adoption by communicating its intent, how it will impact the company and how the reader can provide support or get their questions answered. This aspect of introducing new practices could be its own guidebook! We encourage you to learn more about how to understand the needs of individuals and teams within your company, develop the practices to best support them, influence change and create sustainable performance improvements at your organization.
At a minimum, as you introduce this new process for the first time, have some verbiage and documentation ready to share, as folks may be unfamiliar with this new approach to incident analysis. We often use the following:
We are improving the “after the incident” phase at $COMPANY and taking new approaches to the “after the incident” phase—specifically focusing on incident analysis (learning from incidents), and getting the most learnings we can out of incidents.
An important thing to remember is that we are at the beginning of how we handle the “after the incident” phase. What we’re doing with this phase now will help shed light on how we are doing as an organization and how we can improve.
As we roll out more comprehensive investigations, you’ll notice they have the title “X” to specifically focus on how we got to this specific incident, including digging into historical incidents and decisions made at $COMPANY.
Q: What are the components of a strong incident analysis?
- Incident occurs
- Investigation assigned
- Investigation accepted
- Initial analysis by investigator to identify interviewees and insight generation
- Investigator analysis of disparate sources
- Individual interviews
- Calibration document (align with participants on the event)
- Facilitated post-incident meeting
- Report/incident dissemination
- Action items meeting or document
If you have any questions on what we’re doing/what the plan is (in the meantime), please reach out to @$PERSON and we can chat.
Appendix C: Handling Concerns & Objections
These are some frequently asked questions you might get when sending out any communications on your investigation process changes.You can edit and adjust these to match your company’s needs, then make this a pdf and attach it to an email or share it internally.